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Energy Efficiency Needs To Speed Up To Meet Climate Goals

Energy efficiency and ways to reduce emissions from buildings may be the cheapest way to lower carbon footprints and help reach climate goals, but the current pace of investments in energy efficiency is insufficient for a net-zero pathway.

Now investors in energy efficiency, including companies and funds, are pushing for government policies targeting more efficient energy use, as they see a lack of action would be a missed opportunity to boost energy efficiency, the Financial Times’ Harry Dempsey notes.

The missed opportunity in energy efficiency would be like “$20 bills littering the sidewalk and nobody [picking] them up,” Katie McGinty, Chief Sustainability and External Relations Officer at energy efficiency and buildings technology company Johnson Controls, told the FT.

The building sector accounts for 38 percent of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions when adding building construction industry emissions, the UN said last year.

“Emissions from the operation of buildings hit their highest-ever level in 2019, moving the sector further away from fulfilling its huge potential to slow climate change and contribute significantly to the goals of the Paris Agreement,” the UN Environment Programme noted in November 2020.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report last month that “Total annual investment in energy efficiency worldwide needs to triple by 2030 to be consistent with a path towards reaching net zero emissions by 2050, as set out in the IEA’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050.”

“We consider energy efficiency to be the ‘first fuel’ as it still represents the cleanest and, in most cases, the cheapest way to meet our energy needs. There is no plausible pathway to net zero emissions without using our energy resources much more efficiently,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.  

Government policies are expected to help energy efficiency investment rise by 10 percent to nearly $300 billion in 2021, the IEA’s report found.

“Increasing the share of existing buildings that are zero carbon ready from less than 1% today to around 20% by 2030 is a key milestone, as is moving to no new sales of coal and oil boilers globally from 2025,” according to the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Lee James on December 06 2021 said:
    We do need to reduce energy consumption in buildings. I sense that we are finding that scaling up solar power is going slower than hoped. Energy efficiency improvements, though less sexy than solar, is a basic and essential way to reduce energy use.

    Most projects that I'm aware of focus on lighting and control systems improvements. HVAC system improvements area also important. The ability of large buildings to shed unwanted heat is important and sometimes cooling down a building can also heat water instead of just dumping it outside.

    Really, energy efficiency is just good business sense, but it's often overlooked in the shuffle of doing business and being focused on other things like the main mission.
  • steve Clark on December 06 2021 said:
    To meet climate goals efficiency is NOT our top goal. Most GHG comes from agriculture, construction and coal power plants in India and China.

    You have to deal with all of those first.

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