Materializing the multiple benefits of energy efficiency: Accelerating global action

By Mark Lister

September 12, 2017

Among Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) three core energy goals, energy efficiency stands out as an opportunity that all individuals, businesses and governments can take advantage of. Energy efficiency offers a range of opportunities to improve business productivity and curb carbon emissions at the same time.

It can also provide social and environmental benefits via improved health and well-being, cleaner air and more jobs. And according to many authoritative studies, energy efficiency will need to do the heavy lifting in moving us cost-effectively towards international climate and clean energy goals.

It is encouraging to see through the new SEforALL heat maps that energy efficiency actions are gaining momentum in many parts of the world. The latest Global Tracking Framework data released earlier this year also shows the global annual rate of energy efficiency improvement is indeed speeding up. However, much more still needs to be done to coax this invisible giant out of hiding, and achieve SEforALL’s objective of doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvement by 2030.

The top 20 energy consuming economies account for more than 75% of global Total Primary Energy Supply, so how rapidly these countries reduce their energy intensity has a major impact on global outcomes. Among the different sectors, energy efficiency improvement rates for buildings and freight transport lag behind industry and passenger transport. These two sectors need extra attention, with a special focus on new buildings and new trucks due to their long asset life and the lock-in effect on their energy use in the decades to come.

As SEforALL’s energy efficiency hub, the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency is pumping up global efforts on energy efficiency through hands-on efforts to build sectoral projects that create impact and can be replicated. Our support to national governments and cities starts with a quick assessment and, based on the results of the analysis, an understanding of existing actions, energy efficiency partners and local consultations that help inform a joint implementation plan. The scope of this plan then helps us to connect the project proponents with our wide network of relevant global technology, service and finance providers, such as the sectoral SEforALL Accelerators, which can help convert ambitions into funded projects and real results. The deployment models created in this process then become project ‘blueprints’ for replicating and scaling up similar actions and investments by other aspiring governments.

To speed information dissemination and exchange, best-practice examples of proven solutions and investment models are extremely useful. Through close collaboration with leading government think-tanks and universities, we have assessed effective existing policies and future opportunities for energy efficiency improvement in two of the very biggest high-impact countries: China and India.

The Copenhagen Centre continues to support SEforALL and the Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform, and will continue doing its part in speeding the achievement of global energy efficiency goals.