Understanding the role of improved energy efficiency in addressing climate change

Joshua S Hill writes a good article on the CleanTechnica website about a new report by the Carbon Trust on the important role of energy efficiency in our climate strategies.

 

Energy Efficiency Key To Limiting Global Warming To 2°C

A new report has shown that energy efficiency is the key to keeping the door open to a 2°C global warming scenario, which would in turn save trillions of dollars across the global economy.

The new report, Available, Attractive, Too Slow? How to accelerate energy efficiency by getting the financing for it right, was published this week by the Carbon Trust — an independent company dedicated to helping organizations and companies “contribute to and benefit from a more sustainable future through carbon reduction, resource efficiency strategies, and commercializing low carbon technologies” — and makes the case that “energy efficiency is the linchpin that can keep the door to a 2°C open and save trillions of dollars across the global economy,” and outlines the best practice for achieving increased energy efficiency. The report was launched at an event held at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP22, being held in Marrakech, and relies on 10 case studies, interviews with leading practitioners, evaluations of past programmes, and the Carbon Trust’s own 15 years worth of experience.

Carbon Trust explains that “There has been a common struggle across many programmes worldwide to create sustainable private sector markets that are effective in reducing energy demand.” Across the whole supply chain, there have been numerous hurdles to increasing energy efficiency, and only smart public programmes will be able to overcome these hurdles, requiring a large increase in financing and a reorientation of investment.

The IEA estimates that in achieving a 2°C scenario, energy efficiency must account for 38% of the total cumulative emissions reduction through to 2050, while renewables only need to account for 32%. Energy efficiency in this situation will require global spending to reach $550 billion a year by the 2030s — this compares dramatically with the $2.9 billion that was committed by multi-lateral development banks in 2015 to energy efficiency programmes.

The key findings from the report include six questions that should be asked when designing any energy efficiency finance programme:

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Subsequently, for any energy efficiency program to be effective, the authors of the report explain that it is critical that:

  • The target market is clearly defined and well understood
  • Fundamental drivers for action are in place, and if not, efforts are made to strengthen them
  • The supply chain to deliver energy efficiency is mapped, and if needed, action is taken to build its capacity
  • Barriers across the supply chain are analyzed comprehensively and prioritized
  • Programmes are developed which target barriers systematically, with financial and technical solutions implemented in concert
  • Steps are taken so that once public support ends, the supply of, and demand for finance for energy efficiency continues

The authors of the report therefore make three specific recommendations:

  • Business cases for investment need to be strengthened by strong policy frameworks with the right economic and regulatory drivers. Influencing these needs to be a key objective.
  • More resources should be devoted to technical assistance than has historically been the case. Activities such as awareness-raising, pipeline generation and de-risking are essential to create sufficient demand and commitment.
  • Upskilling, equipping and accrediting suppliers and technical advisors is also critical to creating a sustainable, scalable and bankable pipeline, as they have the greatest inherent incentive to identify, appraise and deliver viable projects.

“The most cost effective way of tackling climate change is through energy efficiency,” explained report author Simon Retallack, Director at the Carbon Trust.

“Yet too little is being invested in it and the programmes that are being funded are frequently not having the impact they should. Public funding from multi-lateral developments and governments has a critical role to play, but there needs to be a change in approach. To succeed with energy efficiency, more needs to be invested in getting the right policies in place to drive change and in providing the technical support companies and households need to deploy energy efficient technology at scale. Making capital available for investment is not enough. Demand for it needs to be stimulated and a pipeline of projects created.”

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