Does UK really rank number 1 in energy efficiency?

After ACEEE’s league table of major economies on their progress on energy efficiency, there is growing scepticism on Britain’s leading status.  The articles and emails have been coming fast and furious.  Many are questioning the indicators that are used.  As one wrote this week: “The damage is done . . .” The ACEEE ranking contradicts Eurostat’s own findings.  There are concerns that it is weighted too heavily on heavy industry or thermal power plants.  Others worry that the major achievers should include countries such as Denmark, widely accepted as the leader in Europe and possibly globally, but does not.

Rankings are meant to motivate.  EiD wrote last week about Canada’s embarrassment at coming in second last.  The US is not much better.  Hopefully they will be spurred to re-double their efforts.

On the opposite end of the scale, the high ranking could lead Britain to smugness and complacency.  That is doubtful but possible.  When I was part of a group that was invited to meet Greg Barker, minister of state for climate change, his whole concern was to get Britain to the status of a region such as California that has been a major force in the US for decades.  There was scepticism around the table, but good wishes nonetheless.

With the current rankings, the UK has two issues. It faces a serious challenges to make the Green Deal work and to reduce fuel poverty.  The Green Deal is the long anticipated financial mechanism that is designed to eliminate the need to pay up-front for energy efficiency measures and instead provides reassurances that the cost of the measures should be covered by savings on the electricity bill.

The other issue gives me hope that Britain can one day deserve to be number one.  It concerns people, committed people.  There is a wonderful assortment of people and organisations that undertake analysis, implementation, awareness creation and “pressuring” decision-makers that have put Britain on the map.  The organisations include such as the Association for the Conservation of Energy, the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Buildings, the National Energy Foundation, many university groups, associations working with the fuel poor, community groups, NGOs and countless others.  The competence and level of innovation that exists outside government is staggering. To EiD, that is Britain’s strength and its hope for the future.  And they bring Britain very high in anyone’s ranking.  Other countries have much to learn from this British experience.

 

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