Energy productivity will be big in 2016: Bryan Jacob

Reading time: 6 minutes
18 December 2015

Following discussions with influential businesses at COP21 in Paris where the world's first ever global climate deal was agreed, Bryan Jacob, Campaign Director, EP100, The Climate Group, writes about the importance of energy productivity, which will be a new project of The Climate Group and a major focus for the world's low carbon business leaders from 2016.

During my time at COP21 in Paris talking to leading business and government leaders, it was clear that efforts to curb emissions will be most effective through innovative solutions.

Strategies such as decarbonization of energy supply, and research and investment in renewables represent an important part of these efforts. But a stronger emphasis is expected next year on energy productivity in particular, in order to keep us on track for a sub-2 degree pathway by 2030.

Energy productivity will reduce the cost of related decarbonization efforts by up to US$2.8 trillion, according to a new report from ClimateWorks and Fraunhofer ISI. In short, it is set to make a compelling business case in 2016.

But what is energy productivity?

Building on progress already made on energy efficiency initiatives around the world, energy productivity focuses entirely on achieving greater economic output from each individual unit of energy. In this way it can serve economic growth and lessen global environmental impact at the same time.

In fact, it is estimated that doubling energy productivity in the US by 2030 will save US$327 billion a year in energy costs, add 1.3 million jobs and reduce CO2 emissions 33% by 2030. On top of that, it could also reduce our global fossil fuel bill by more than EUR2 trillion and create more than six million jobs globally by 2020.*

The Climate Group’s energy productivity program, launches in 2016. Through it we will encourage businesses to embrace energy efficiency as the ‘first fuel’ in the race to a clean energy future. But most importantly, these forward-looking companies will commit to doubling their energy productivity over the next 15 years.

The program will also provide a forum for companies who have made bold public commitments on energy productivity to share best practices and showcase their leadership. Amy Davidson, US Executive Director, The Climate Group sees this as a key opportunity, stating: “Leading companies recognize that the only pathway forward to ensure a safe, healthy and prosperous future for all, is a rapid transition to a clean economy.”

Indeed, research such as the study from ClimateWorks and Fraunhofer ISI illustrates the importance of a program like EP100, and the vast environmental and economic benefits that come with incorporating an energy efficiency-based strategy.

China, for instance, is already fostering energy efficiency policies in all relevant sectors to decarbonize its economy, according to the study. The country’s upcoming Five-Year Plan is expected to address the growth of energy intensive industries and the rising demand of mobility as part of this strategy.

And in India, 15-25% of energy use is estimated to be avoided when improved energy delivery and storage technologies are developed. As the fastest growing economy in the world, India exemplifies the potential for the joint implementation of decarbonization and energy efficiency programs.

Ultimately, focusing on energy productivity as a framework for energy consumption at both the corporate and the governmental levels can facilitate major cost savings and greatly reduce emissions.

With just a few more days until the end of 2015, the landmark Paris Agreement presents us with the opportunity and encouragement to implement new energy productivity strategies. The EP100 program will unite companies to spearhead new models for using energy effectively to ensure both a safe climate  - and a prosperous economy.

*Facts from 2015 Energy Productivity and Economic Prosperity report (Ecofys), and US figures from the American Energy Productivity report (Rhodium, 2013).




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