A transformation in the energy sector is necessary. Fundamentally changing the ways we produce, deliver and consume energy are more than ever of critical importance. For this change to occur, governments can take action on two levels: immediate policy changes to promote energy-saving using existing measures, as well as longer-term efforts to improve infrastructure while using less energy, and to ensure better social and economic outcomes.
Prospects for the future are clear. With no change in current polices, in 2050 the world economy will be four times as large as today, generating an 80% increase in the amount of energy we consume. Without important efficiency policy interventions, CO2 emissions will double. The OECD/IEA joint report, Green Growth Studies: Energy (2011) makes the case that global emissions could be cut by half in 2050 by fostering energy efficiency policies, low carbon energy technologies and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.
But in the short run, what concrete actions can States take to increase energy efficiency? As the green revolution in the energy sector will take some time to bear fruit, governments and energy consumers can take pragmatic steps towards greening the usage of energy. By acting now, governments can help stimulate investment in energy efficiency and accelerate implementation through national energy efficiency strategies.
The IEA published a set of 25 policy recommendations geared towards energy efficiency in the fields of buildings, appliances, lighting, transport and industry. Such strategies are crucial to identifying gaps and achieving CO2 reduction targets. On a top-down level, the IEA estimates that if the recommendations were implemented the benefits could be significant: the reduction in energy demand in 2010 represents 17% of the current annual worldwide energy consumption. 7.6 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 a year by 2030 could be avoided. This corresponds to almost 1.5 times current US annual CO2 emissions.
At COP 17 in Durban, the OECD and the IEA reaffirmed that governmental policies are a powerful tool in increasing energy efficiency and achieving greener growth. The Green Growth Study on Energy states that energy efficiency improvements can reduce the need for investment in energy infrastructure, cut fuel costs, increase competitiveness, lessen exposition to fuel price volativity, increase energy affordability for low income households, cut local and global pollutants and improve consumer welfare.
IEA’s 25 energy efficiency recommendations
1. Energy efficiency data collection and indicators
2. Strategies and action plans
3. Competitive energy markets, with appropriate regulation
4. Private investment in energy efficiency
5. Monitoring, enforcement and evaluation of policies and measures
6. Mandatory building codes and minimum energy performance requirements
7. Aiming for net zero energy consumption buildings
8. Improving energy efficiency of existing buildings
9. Building energy labels and certificates
10. Energy performance of building components and systems
Appliances and equipment
11. Mandatory energy performance standards and labels for appliances and equipment
12. Test standards and measurement protocols for appliances and equipment
13. Market transformation policies for appliances and equipment
14. Phase-out of inefficient lighting products and systems
15. Energy-efficient lighting systems
16. Mandatory vehicle fuel-efficiency standards
17. Measures to improve vehicle fuel efficiency
18. Fuel-efficient non-engine components
19. Improving operational efficiency through eco-driving and other measures
20. Improve transport system efficiency
21. Energy management in industry
22. High-efficiency industrial equipment and systems
23. Energy efficiency services for small and medium-sized enterprises
24. Complementary policies to support industrial energy efficiency
25. Energy utilities and end-use energy efficiency
OECD work on green growth
Further reading on green growth
Green growth and energy