Energy efficiency: low-hanging fruit

  Energy efficiency measures have the potential to deliver more than half the emissions cuts needed to keep the increase in global temperatures within 2°C, while delivering tangible economic and other benefits for society. But making progress requires far-reaching action in terms of political will, business confidence and major investment. "It's the lowest hanging fruit, but nobody's picking it," says Kandeh Yumkella, SEforALL’s Chief Executive Officer and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, in this speech for the Brussels-based Lisbon Council think-tank. "The benefits are recorded. How do we get the leadership to take action? How do we get the companies to trust them enough to say 'OK, we'll take a bet on the long term.' Where's the finance?" Investing in energy efficiency creates jobs, fosters economic growth and improves energy security for countries that lack domestic fossil fuel resources. Of the three objectives of Sustainable Energy for All, improving energy efficiency has the clearest impact on saving money, improving business results, and delivering more services for consumers — better refrigerators that cost the same but use less energy; new vehicle designs that travel further on less fuel; and buildings that require less energy to heat and cool. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves productivity. By reducing energy demand, it also makes renewable energy more affordable, for example by shrinking the size of the solar panel needed to power a lamp. Yumkella was taking part in a Lisbon Council seminar on 17 February that also presented a new policy brief: The 2015 Energy Productivity and Economic Prosperity Index: How Efficiency Will Drive Growth, Create Jobs and Spread Wellbeing Throughout Society. The report was written by Lisbon Council President Paul Hofheinz and Professor Dr Kornelis Blok, director of science at Ecofys, and funded by Philips Lighting, a key partner in SEforALL's Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform.   Home page photo credit: Gill Tudor/SEforALL