Improving Energy Efficiency
Reducing the amount of energy the world wastes is the first and best step toward fighting global warming. Eliminating this waste also provides financial resources to sustainably grow strong economies around the world.
What’s more, energy efficiency’s benefits are universal — equally profound in countries large and small. Reaching an international agreement to unlock the energy efficiency opportunity is a strong down payment on further emissions reductions.
THE GLOBAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY OPPORTUNITY
Realizing the Potential of Energy Efficiency looks at ways for the world’s most developed countries — specifically those in the “Group of Eight” (G8) — to reduce energy waste by bolstering energy efficiency.
The report urges G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) to double current annual energy efficiency improvements — reaching a rate of 2.5 percent per year. (Click here for the English version of the report. Click here for the Chinese translation.)
The report found that, if extended to other major, energy-using countries, achieving this goal would contribute to holding carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere to a manageable level for the rest of the century. It would also reduce energy demand in each of the G8 countries by 20 percent by 2030 — equivalent to the energy produced by 2,000 coal-fired power plants.
The report also calls for G8 countries to work alongside developing countries to achieve similar results and provides options for all countries in planning energy efficiency goals.
A number of countries have recently adopted ambitious energy efficiency targets and are working hard to meet them. China, for example, set a goal that would result in 4 percent annual improvements in energy efficiency.
International cooperation on energy efficiency is a win-win strategy that can deliver benefits to both the developed and developing world. Gaining agreement on ways to share successful efficiency policies, technological innovations, and new approaches to financing across borders will jumpstart the effort to reduce global warming as the world works through the critical and contentious issues of a global climate agreement. Policy makers and negotiators should put efficiency first as they work towards a climate agreement.
What does putting efficiency first mean? An “Efficiency First” agreement would include at least four basic elements:
- Set A Global Energy Efficiency Goal – Parties would agree to a global energy productivity goal of collectively doubling the annual rate of energy efficiency improvement (to about 2.5%) by 2015.
- Make National Commitments – Each party would commit to an annual improvement target, consistent with the collective global goal, based on its own national circumstances, and would implement policies and measures based on a national plan.
- Establish a Performance Registry – A coordinating body such as the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation would annually assess whether the national plans are sufficient to reach the collective global goal. The parties would meet annually to report progress and share best practices for implementation.
- Provide Financing and Technology Assistance – Developing country policies and measures would be eligible for carbon credits or financial incentives through the Clean Development Mechanism, Global Environmental Facility or a similar process; developed countries would direct a stream of carbon finance to support a program of UN technical assistance, creation of technology assistance centers, and other efforts by the private sector.
“Efficiency First” is but one step to bring the world together to agree on meaningful action. It has broad appeal and can be applied immediately in both the developed and developing world.
What's more, it's a step that will achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and provide nations with other economic and security benefits.