Post-G8 meeting focuses on energy efficiency

Wilton Park, UK (GLOBE-Net) – Global investment of US $700 billion over the next 25 years could deliver a return of more than $1.4 trillion. That was the message delivered by International Energy Agency (IEA) analysts at a meeting to develop a G8 plan for energy security.

Over 70 participants from governments including Mexico, the USA, the UK, France, Ghana, and Japan met recently to follow up on the G8 Plan of Action for energy security created at the 2005 Gleneagles meeting.

A declaration from the Gleneagles Summit stated that “We will act with resolve and urgency to meet our shared multiple objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the global environment, enhancing energy security and cutting air pollution in conjunction with our vigorous efforts to reduce poverty.” The Wilton Park conference was held to develop ideas for an action plan.

“Current policies will not bring us on a path towards a sustainable energy future,” noted speaker Neil Hirst, Director of Energy Technology and Research and Development for the International Energy Agency.

Yet “a more sustainable energy future is possible with a portfolio of clean and efficient technologies,” he added, stressing that the world requires urgent action to develop a full mix of energy technologies. Cooperation between developed and developing nations will also be essential, he noted. Energy efficiency was dubbed “the biggest fuel” and set as a top priority for all nations. IEA analysis has shown that improved energy efficiency using today’s technologies can reduce expected growth in electricity demand by half, and cut the need for added generation capacity by one-third. This is set against the backdrop of a G8 prediction that global energy demand will increase 50% by 2030, with around 80% of that being met by fossil fuels.

Marianne Osterkorn, International Director of REEEP (renewable energy and energy efficiency partnership), a Public-Private partnership launched by the United Kingdom along with other partners at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in August 2002, noted that controlling the demand side of energy through greater efficiency is as important as improving the generating mix of the supply side.

The application of energy efficiency standards for appliances has helped countries such as Thailand and Ghana for example, to dramatically reduce energy consumption. Other nations such as China are looking to make similar gains, meeting participants were told.

Wang Wanxing from the China Energy Foundation stated that “implementing appliance standards could reduce residential energy consumption in China by 12% by 2020, eliminating thirty-four 1,000 MW coal fired power stations.”

At the closing of the event, participants concluded that:

  • It was essential for countries and their populations to have access to energy, but that the alarming evidence of damaging climate change requires urgent international action to limit the growth of greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Cleaner technologies for fossil fuels must be a priority;
  • Energy efficiency can make a significant contribution to diminishing energy demand and enhancing energy security; and
  • There is an urgent need to develop new technologies and transfer the latest technologies to developing countries.

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