Global commission launched to reverse energy efficiency slowdown

The International Energy Agency has set up a high-level commission to reignite rapid implementation of energy efficiency policies globally.

The agency says this is needed because the pace of change through government initiatives has been slowing recently. The independent commission draws expertise from politics, business and education.

It is focusing on key policy actions that can be taken by countries worldwide to swiftly deliver energy efficiencies that are essential in the transition to the low-carbon economy.

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Prime Minister, will be the honorary chair while Richard Bruton, Irish Communications, Climate Action and Environment Minister will chair the ongoing work of the panel.

Urgent action

Officially titled the IEA Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency, members include current and former ministers for energy and environment from Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Morocco, New Zealand and Spain.

Business leaders include Ben van Beurden, Shell CEO and Lisa Davis Siemens CEO of Gas and Power, along with Gil Quiniones, President of the New York Power Authority and Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute in India.

Dr Wan Gang, the previous Chinese Minister of Science and Technology, who is known as the “father of electric vehicles” in China, has also agreed to take part.

The IEA estimates the global economy could double in size by 2040 but, with the best policies in place, could maintain “broadly the same level of energy use as today”.

It says that by implementing all the economically viable energy efficiency potential currently available, consumers could save more than $500 billion by 2040 through lower energy bills.

Climate goals

Using cost-effective technologies already available, the right policies could help achieve more than 40% of the emissions reductions needed to reach international climate goals.

At the same time, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution in cities and dependence on energy imports could all be reduced.

But the IEA starkly warns that policy implementation has slowed with energy efficiency progress weakening. The increase in energy-related carbon emissions last year were their highest rate for six years while rising air pollution is linked to millions of premature deaths every year.

IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol said:

“It is imperative that we get global energy efficiency progress back on track. I’m delighted that Prime Minister Varadkar and other eminent figures from around the world have agreed to commit their energy and ideas to this vital project.

“The IEA sees energy efficiency as critical for successful clean energy transitions. It has huge potential to start making an immediate difference if governments act now and act decisively.”

The panel is:

  • Leo Varadkar, Prime Minister, Ireland. Honorary Chair
  • Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, African Union Commission
  • Richard Bruton, Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Ireland
  • Nick Butler, Visiting Professor, King’s College London
  • Lisa Davis, Chief Executive Officer, Gas and Power, Siemens AG
  • Connie Hedegaard, Former Commissioner for Climate Action, European Union
  • Michael Liebreich, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Liebreich Associates
  • Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute, India
  • Aziz Rabbah, Minister of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development, Morocco
  • Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, Minister for Ecological Transition, Spain
  • Gil C. Quiniones, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Power Authority
  • Adam Sieminski, President, King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre, Saudi Arabia
  • Masakazu Toyoda, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Energy Economics, Japan
  • Jürgen Trittin, Member of the Bundestag and Former Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany
  • Claude Turmes, Minister for Energy and Minister for Spatial Planning, Luxembourg
  • Ben van Beurden, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Dutch Shell
  • Dr Wan Gang, Previous Minister of Science and Technology, China
  • Dr Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources, New Zealand
  • Dr Kandeh Yumkella Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All

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