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Improving energy efficiency key to 1.5C target, says expert

energy efficiency Cop28 Nawal Al Hosany Wam
'Nobody is taking care of it,' says Dr Nawal Al Hosany, vice chair of the Global Council on Energy Efficiency
  • Pledge to double energy efficiency growth
  • Building inefficiency causes 39% of emissions
  • $1.5 trillion needed each year

The world will miss its target to limit global warming to 1.5C if it does not prioritise energy efficiency in the decarbonisation process, a renewables expert has warned.

“We always say that energy efficiency is the lowest-hanging fruit,” said Dr Nawal Al Hosany, vice chair of the Global Council on Energy Efficiency.

“However, it’s like an orphan. Nobody is adopting it, nobody is taking care of it, nobody is mentioning it.”

Al Hosany added that ignoring the problem would mean “we will never be able to reach the 1.5C target”.

The 1.5C threshold was established in the Paris Agreement of 2015, a legally binding treaty to tackle climate change, signed by 195 nations. The agreement aims to limit global warming to “well below” 2C by the end of the century, and seeks to keep warming within 1.5C.

The Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency pledge was announced last weekend at Cop28 in Dubai, with 118 agreeing to treble worldwide installed renewable energy generation capacity to at least 11,000GW, and to double the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements from around 2 percent to more than 4 percent every year until 2030.

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The Global Council on Energy Efficiency also unveiled a white paper on the sidelines of the climate conference, produced alongside French energy company EDF and Schneider Electric.

Two thirds of energy extracted is lost at different steps of the cycle, with work required to tackle inefficiencies across buildings, industry and mobility, according to the report.

Inefficiency in buildings is the source of 39 percent of global carbon emissions, it adds.

At a Cop28 media event, Carine de Boissezon, director of the impact department at EDF Group, said the mix of high energy prices, the threat to energy supplies and power shortages and increased digitalisation has caused a “crisis” that has created a “tipping point” for energy efficiency.

The International Energy Agency says energy efficiency and electrification would contribute to up to 40 percent of total decarbonisation of the energy system by 2050.

Investments in energy efficiency reached a record high of $560 billion in 2022. It is estimated that $1.5 trillion of annual investment is needed between 2026 and 2030.

The report revealed the importance of using funding to reduce upfront costs and improve visibility on energy and financial returns. It added that digitalisation and partnerships were key to addressing the issue.

“With today’s digital technologies, everything is visible in real-time,” said Manish Pant, executive vice president, international operations, Schneider Electric.

“Energy consumption can be monitored from anywhere and on any device. It’s now easier to make more intelligent decisions on how energy efficient we can be.”

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