G20 could deliver 40% of 2C target with better energy standards, report claims

Raising and normalising energy efficiency standards across the G20 group of rich countries could deliver 40% of the emissions cuts needed to limit global warming to two degrees, a major new report has found.

The report, released today (5 November) by the New Climate Economy (NCE) think-tank, claims that new unilateral standards on appliances, lighting, vehicles, buildings and industrial equipment could act as the planet’s “first fuel” by drastically reducing energy demand.

A recent report from the IEA found that energy efficiency investments could boost global GDP by $18trn by 2035, increasing growth by as much as 1.1%.

And the NCE says the G20 alone could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 6.9 Gt CO2e per year by 2030 – more than the current annual emissions of the United States and almost 40% of the emissions reductions needed to stay within two degrees.

— Read the report —

The NCE says the G20 countries are well positioned to benefit from high efficiency targets, given their market scale, influence on technological uptake, and massive energy consumption.

“Energy efficiency is an environmental and economic win-win and a clear leadership opportunity for the G20,” said former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, who now chairs the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which oversees the NCE.

“In addition to being good for the environment, it is in the economic self-interest of consumers, businesses and governments, and should be the top of the agenda at the G20 meeting. What the G20 takes on today could be the global norm tomorrow.”

The leaders of the G20 countries – which account for 80% of the world’s energy consumption – are due to meet in Turkey on 15 and 16 November.

Correcting market failure

NCE programme director Helen Mountford said: “One of the best ways to overcome the barriers of misaligned incentives and other market failures is to set energy efficiency standards.

“Standards provide certainty for manufacturers and consumers, encourage technological innovation, remove inefficient technologies from the market, and reduce transaction costs.

“That’s why the paper recommends that the G20 raise and align global standards, and establish a global platform for greater alignment and continuous improvement of standards.” 

The NCE report highlights examples of national of energy efficiency initiatives that have worked in the past, including Japan’s “Top Runner Approach” for appliances. With this policy, the highest level of energy efficiency currently available for a particular product becomes the new standard in future years.

In the UK alone, another recent report claimed that improved energy efficiency prevented the building of 14 new power stations over the last 30 years.

Brad Allen


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