Energy Efficiency is the Key to Meeting Paris Agreement Goals Matthew C Banks

October 8th, 2018


2018 World Energy Rankings Provide a Roadmap

Matthew C Banks
Associate Director
Sustainability | Navigant

The fall of 2018 is full of high profile climate summits aimed at spurring some momentum across the economy in the wake of the US federal respite on climate action. In September there was the California Governor’s Global Climate Action Summit and then Climate Week NYC. In October Boston hosts Horizon18 sessions where decarbonizing with “Deep Energy Efficiency” is on the agenda, at what is billed as a “Global Solutions Platform for the Clean Economy”.

As corporations dash to set science-based emissions targets, they sometimes sprint to deliver targets briskly, placing a high priority on renewable energy, as 2030 looms closer. This leads to conventional energy conservation, savings, and deep efficiency being left behind, or at least given less attention and follow through. A real and imminent risk of such a pivot is falling short of the Paris Agreement level of ambition or missing out on the cost savings, which is usually substantial, brought to light in roadmaps like The 3% Solution. This doesn’t even include ancillary benefits like comfort, improved indoor ambient air quality, or opportunities to save other resources such as water.

The World Energy Rankings suggest countries need energy efficiency to meet the Paris Agreement goals. This scorecard ranked 25 of the world’s largest energy users (countries) on 36 efficiency metrics and highlighted best practices countries can use to boost energy savings. The United States slid from 8th place in 2016 to 10th in 2018 by scoring six fewer points. Energy efficiency needs to account for almost half of all the emission reductions necessary through 2040 to limit the global increase in temperature to 2C, according to the International Energy Agency. To meet climate targets and reap the multiple benefits of energy efficiency, companies should build efficiency into action plans and learn from one another by emulating the best policies and practices of leaders.

One practice that delivers on today’s challenges is integration of technical and financial services to make efficiency projects a triple bottom line success. Metrus Energy, for example, is revolutionizing the way efficiencies are delivered to customers. Metrus pays for all upfront project costs and is paid only when a project achieves actual savings. Metrus projects use a combination of efficiency measures and technologies that generate the maximum savings as well as operational and environmental co-benefits. An Efficiency Services Agreement (ESA) provides a pay-for-performance solution that is off balance sheet and includes the opportunity to add services and new efficiency measures as they emerge. Metrus Energy

In another example, the EP100 Initiative brings together energy-smart companies like Hilton, H&M and Salesforce that commit to using energy more productively, to lower emissions. By setting ambitious targets and integrating energy efficiency into business strategy, companies drive innovation while delivering on emissions reduction goals – inspiring others to follow their lead. If 100 companies were to double their energy productivity by 2030 – generating twice as much economic output for every unit of energy consumed – over 170 million metric tons of emissions could be avoided cumulatively, equivalent to taking nearly 40 million cars off the road for a year

Parents often say, “No dessert until you eat your vegetables!” Making a b-line for renewable energy is a bit like eating dessert before vegetables. The renewables can be the sweet icing on a climate action plan, or dessert. They look good, feel good, and communicate easily (sound good). They also help close the emissions gap after efficiency gains are limited, but energy efficiency is the nutritious low hanging veggie that can keep on giving.

Deep energy efficiency in pursuit of the Paris goals is going to require doubling energy productivity, together, through new solutions, partnerships, alliances, and abatement strategies that address energy consumption, waste, and clean energy in concert. All the ingredients are converging for an era and a nexus of emissions targets, deep efficiency, renewable energy and triple bottom line successes.