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12-Point Agenda Lays Out Possibilities for Global Energy Efficiency Gains

A 12-point agenda released by three of the world’s leading energy efficiency councils is setting out the steps countries can take to bring annual efficiency improvements up to a Paris Agreement-compliant 3%.

The report, issued last week by organizations from Europe, India, and the United States, is directed at a commission set up by the International Energy Agency, after the IEA’s latest World Energy Outlook reported annual efficiency improvements slumping to 1.2% per year, the slowest rate since 2010.

A year ago, an IEA study concluded that “efficiency gains alone could allow the world to extract twice as much economic value from the energy it uses compared to today,” the agency stated at the time. Executive Director Fatih Birol said the “right efficiency policies could alone enable the world to achieve more than 40% of the emissions cuts needed to reach its climate goals, without requiring new technology.”

Now, while a high-level IEA commission explores those options, with a mid-2020 deadline to report back, the three efficiency councils are out with a list of action items. It includes:

• Building code updates and other supports for structures that are net-zero for energy, water, waste, and carbon;

• Energy retrofits for existing homes and commercial buildings;

• Support for low-energy cooling, to counter a tripling in demand from 1990 to 2018;

• Smart buildings and homes;

• Electrification of space and water heating;

• Tougher and wide-ranging efficiency standards for appliances and equipment;

• Measures to reduce energy intensity in manufacturing 44% by 2040;

• More ambitious vehicle efficiency standards;

• Efforts to reduce vehicle miles travel and shift transportation to other modes;

• Mode switching, more efficient transfers between modes, and more effective logistics to reduce energy consumption in freight;

• Greater efficiency in aviation and long-distance travel;

• New grid technologies, including smart metering and demand-side management.

“Developing countries, including India, must aggressively promote a culture of energy efficiency while pursuing sustainable development goals,” said Satish Kumar, president of the India-based Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE). “Energy efficiency offers the cheapest, fastest, and cleanest resource for clean energy transition while addressing the immediate and significant threats posed by climate change.”

“While carbon pricing and the removal of fossil fuel subsidies are important to create a level playing field for energy efficiency, price and market signals alone are far from enough to steer the world in the right direction,” added European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Executive Director Nils Borg.