The survey from the American Council for an Energy-efficient Economy on how the top 12 economies are doing on energy efficiency has thrown the Canadians into a tizzy since it is doing even worse than its neighbour, the United States as well as China. This article by Mitch Potter of the Toronto Star explains the reaction.
Canada is less energy-efficient than China, new study shows
WASHINGTON—Canada and the U.S. are worse than China when it comes to energy efficiency, according to a new international scorecard.
Only Russia fared more poorly, placing last among the world’s top 12 economies, with Canada lagging at 11th and the U.S. in 9th, according to the first-ever International Energy Efficiency Scorecard.
The report, released Thursday in Washington by the non-profit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said the rankings are worth far more than bragging rights — countries leading the way in stretching energy dollars stand to reap future dividends in jobs, competitiveness and accelerated economic growth.
The U.K. scored first overall, on the merits of gains in industrial efficiency and national policies that fix hard targets for future energy savings, followed by Germany, Italy, Japan and France. Sixth place was a three-way tie between the European Union, Australia and China. Brazil placed 10th, between the U.S. and Canada.
Canadians can’t simply shrug off the findings as a consequence of higher heating costs and low population density, the report’s authors say, because the rankings reflect adjustments for climate and geography.
“We accounted for those differences, adjusting Canada’s scores for the number of days above or below the average of 65 F (18 C), for example — and when you factor these things in, Canada still ranks pretty low,” report co-author Sara Hayes, a senior researcher with the non-profit, told the Toronto Star.
The rankings drew upon data in 27 categories to measure cost-cutting aspects of energy use in buildings, industry and transportation — the three sectors that dominate the power bill in the world’s most developed economies.
When it came to energy use per capita, Canadians placed last at 5.69 tonnes of oil equivalent per person — twice that of the average Russian (2.98) and nearly six times that of category-topping Brazil.
The report also awarded points for “policy metrics,” favouring countries where robust national energy-savings targets are already in place.
Here again, Canada and the U.S. fell flat, ranking poorly against the emerging global standard.
“National policies with efficiency targets are something we can quantify — they make a difference,” Hayes said.
“In Canada’s case, the government’s emphasis on oilsands development is not incompatible to the ideal of setting national efficiency goals. On the contrary, Canada would be very well served by doing all it can to reduce its energy demand — the less oil you need in your own country, the more oil you will have available for export.”
Edward Davey, British Secretary of State for Climate Change, said the report validates energy efficiency as “the heart of our policies to encourage low-carbon growth.
“This study is a fascinating collection of best practice, setting out the innovations which can accelerate economic growth, enhance energy security — and save our households and businesses money,” Davey said in a news release.
China’s sixth-place ranking, said Hayes, reflects its significant strides in energy-efficient building and transportation systems. And while Chinese industry still lags — the country ranks 10th in that category — Hayes said that policy momentum indicates China is determined to drive forward with rapid efficiency gains.
“We drew on data from 2009 and 2010, which was the best available information on the 12 economies in this study. But that doesn’t begin to reflect some of the more recent efforts . . . (by) China’s central government to incorporate and implement efficiency measures across the board,” Hayes said.
“One example not in our report — the Chinese government now has contracts with 17,000 private companies requiring mandatory energy-efficiency achievements. They are being very aggressive about this and the expectation is they will get results.”