It's Time to Declare an Efficiency Emergency
Recent climate data show that the 2010s were the warmest decade on record, with an acceleration of temperature increases in the past five years.
As Kate Marvel, a research scientist at NASA and Columbia University, said in a recent Washington Post article, “The planet is statistically, detectably warmer than before the Industrial Revolution. We know why. We know what it means. And we can do something about it.” Indeed we can. It’s called energy efficiency.
The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report found that if limiting global temperature increases to 1.5˚C is to be achieved, “investments in low-carbon energy technologies and energy efficiency [will need to be] upscaled by roughly a factor of six” by 2050 compared to 2015 levels. The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that energy efficiency can provide up to 40 percent of carbon emission reductions necessary to meet climate goals without new technology and with a positive return on investment. Despite these compelling analyses, recent investment in energy efficiency is failing to grow substantially and annual efficiency improvement rates have decreased.
There are currently 1,340 jurisdictions in 26 countries – representing populations of more than 800 million citizens – that have declared a climate emergency. Given that increased energy efficiency is the lowest cost, highest impact, and fastest-to-implement climate solution, we are not giving it the urgency it deserves. We need to declare an efficiency emergency to address the global climate crisis.
To help spur collaboration to address the emergency, the Alliance launched the Energy Efficiency Global Alliance (EEGA) in 2019. The EEGA is an international coalition of government, corporate, and NGO leaders that champions faster and deeper implementation of energy efficiency solutions, uniting the voice of efficiency. It provides a unified platform for partners to influence global political discussions on energy and climate, and to advance energy efficiency policy, innovation, and investment.
In turn, the EEGA has joined with the IEA, Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll) and other international partners to launch the Three Percent Club, a collaboration of governments and supporting organizations working together to put the world on a path to 3% annual efficiency improvement. IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said, “There is no excuse for inaction: ambitious [energy efficiency] policies need to be put in place to spur investment and put the necessary technologies to work on a global scale.”
Now is our chance to address the climate emergency. That’s why I’m inviting you to join us on April 28-29 in Washington, DC, at the EE Global Forum 2020, where we will focus on raising awareness of the efficiency emergency as a means to drive greater ambition and climate action. Together, we can indeed do something about it.