Why the G20 countries need to take the lead in energy efficiency

Last year in Australia, the G20 gave considerable attention to energy efficiency when it adopted the energy efficiency action plan. Under Turkey’s chairmanship this year, energy efficiency has remained a priority in the G20. Blue & Green Tomorrow recently wrote about the leadership that we need from the G20 in energy efficiency. EiD would like to hear your views.


G20 must lead on energy efficiency, says New Climate Economy

New research from the New Climate Economy shows that raising energy efficiency standards in the G20 and around the world could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 6.9 Gt CO2e per year by 2030, more than the current annual emissions of the United States. These emissions reductions would be accompanied by economic savings in appliances, buildings, industry, and transport.

“Energy efficiency is an environmental and economic win-win and a clear leadership opportunity for the G20,” said former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. “In addition to being good for the environment, it is in the economic self-interest of consumers, businesses and governments and should be the top of the agenda at the G20 energy ministers meeting in Istanbul on October 2nd. What the G20 takes on today could be the global norm tomorrow.”

G20 countries consume 80% of the world’s energy and produce 94% of the world’s cars, so have a major influence on the uptake of efficient technologies worldwide.

The report highlights IEA research which found that the global benefits of energy efficiency could be as much as US$18 trillion by 2035. Improving energy efficiency can free up resources for other, more productive investments, and can create up to three times as many jobs as fossil fuel supply investments per dollar invested.

“One of the best ways to overcome the barriers of misaligned incentives and other market failures is to set energy efficiency standards”, says New Climate Economy Program Director, Helen Mountford. “Standards provide certainty for manufacturers and consumers, encourage technological innovation, remove inefficient technologies from the market, and reduce transaction costs. That’s why the paper recommends that the G20 raise and align global standards, and establish a global platform for greater alignment and continuous improvement of standards.”

This could build on the energy efficiency action plan from the 2014 G20 Summit in Australia. The G20 Energy Ministers are meeting in Istanbul on October 2, and this year’s G20 Summit will take place on November 15–16.

There are plenty of examples of energy efficiency initiatives that have worked in the past, including Japan’s “Top Runner Approach” for appliances. With this policy, the highest level of energy efficiency currently available (and sometimes an improvement on that level) for a particular product becomes the new standard in future years.

Russell Bishop, author of the report, adds: “Efficiency is an essential component of any strategy to deliver affordable energy and should be seen as the ‘first fuel.’ It can be especially beneficial for fast-growing economies trying to achieve universal energy access with limited resources.”

“It is important to recognise that the goal of converging energy efficiency standards towards the global best does not mean that all countries have to use the same standards. There are likely to be differences for countries at different stages of development. Rather, the goal would be to converge toward a smaller number of standards.”

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