Experts: 3% Annual Efficiency Boost Globally Enables Big Carbon Cuts While Economy Doubles
“Globally, progress on energy efficiency is slowing down….Energy efficiency policy action is not keeping up…” This was the warning Dr. Brian Motherway, head of energy efficiency at the International Energy Agency, had for senators at the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing Tuesday morning.
Social and development trends are pushing energy demand up. In fact, the global rate of energy intensity improvement has been slowing since 2015, when energy intensity improved nearly 3%, Motherway explained in his written testimony. In 2018, there was only a 1.2% improvement.
But it’s not too late. Motherway told the Committee that if we “got back on track to around three percent annual improvements a year, in the next few decades we could see the global economy double in size while using effectively the same amount of energy that we use today.”
The three percent goal “builds on International Energy Agency research showing that the right energy efficiency policies could deliver over 40 percent of the emissions cuts needed to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, without requiring new technology,” fellow panelist Jennifer Layke, of the World Resources Institute, explained in her written testimony.
The goal was embraced last month at the UN Climate Action Summit with the launch of the Three Percent Club, a collaboration of governments and supporting organizations that commit to working together to put the world on a path to three percent annual efficiency improvement.
Participating governments are committing to use the best levers available to them to meet this goal, including incorporating specific efficiency actions and commitments in national plans or providing financial and technical support to other countries. Corporations and supporting organizations are committing to significantly improve the efficiency of their own operations and to support energy efficiency policy development or implementation for member countries.
The EE Global Alliance – of which the Alliance to Save Energy serves as Secretariat – works as a clearinghouse, connecting member governments with supporting organizations that have the appropriate technical expertise and geographic scope to scale up energy efficiency action and impacts across the globe.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairwoman of the Committee and an Alliance Honorary Advisor, noted the Three Percent Club in her opening remarks.
The three percent goal is rightly getting attention. Now, the challenge is making the target a reality. As world leaders prepare to meet in Chile in December for the United Nations Climate Conference, negotiators, their countries, and the private sector should further embrace the target and accelerate the work needed to achieve it.