Accelerating Energy Efficiency under SE4All

By Rachel Kyte

February 18, 2016

The Paris Agreement has added urgency to the quest for a doubling of rates of energy efficiency improvement as universally agreed in the 7th Sustainable Development Goal in September at the United Nations. With zero net emissions in the global economy an inevitable outcome of the ambition of the Paris Agreement, and with NDCs mapping out a future temperature rise of more than 3 degrees, as opposed to the agreed limit of below 2 degrees, it is clear that the key to making our ambitions a reality is to kick-start energy productivity, especially across the major economies and those whose productivity lags behind good practice at a time when they are focused on growth and meeting the basic needs of their people.

Energy efficiency, the power source we so often forget, is a key to peaking emissions early in the energy transition, which we need to meet the goals of managing climate change and leaving no one behind. Achieving sustained high rates of efficiency across all sectors of the economy, on both the supply and demand sides, is an essential step in realising our shared goals.

The good news is that somewhere in the world, a company, a sector of industry, a city, province, state or country has made incredible progress. The good news is that in many cases the technology is at hand. The good news is that technological innovation and evolution mean that we can think of providing people with access to clean and affordable energy for much less power than was the case before. We can imagine that we can front-load the long-term goal of access as part of our energy transition.

The not so good news: moving everyone at the same pace of achievement has eluded us to date. The financing and policy environment that will support smart behaviors – now necessary change – needs to catch up with our newly realised urgency.

In SE4All we have been working in partnerships across the private and public sectors and with civil society to focus efforts on high-impact efficiency opportunities. To this end, a Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform was launched at the Climate Summit in 2014, comprised of accelerators in lighting, appliances and equipment, buildings, district energy, industry and vehicle fuel efficiency, to focus on stimulating successful collaborations that result in tangible energy efficiency projects being formulated, energy savings delivered and emissions avoided.

Using Copenhagen and the long standing commitment to energy efficiency of successive Danish governments and the Danish private sector, through our hub and in partnership with UNEP, our second-generation strategy for the post-2015 reality is focused on ensuring that our ambitions are right-sized.

New commitments by the private sector to energy productivity will need to be global. City leaders around the world need the tools, the financial instruments and access to policy advice and private sector partners to achieve efficiency rates and to build with efficiency targets in mind for new and fast-growing cities. We know that in cities, provinces, states and countries, success is stronger where efficiency and performance measures are owned and driven from the top across government. We also know that at the company level, incentives need to be in place to reward the savings-as-profit mindset that will drive efficiency across the whole business.

In the next few months we will be working with our partners to show in a few areas that we can move the needle dramatically and improve productivity. Working with the best evidence and best practice, we hope we can support governments and business to come together to get moving on what is the most intuitive policy action in this uncertain world.