The UK has taken top spot in a new energy efficiency ranking of the world’s major economies drawn up by the not-for-profit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
The country’s Energy Secretary Ed Davey hailed the result, saying that energy efficiency is at the heart of all the government’s low carbon policies.
“This study, and others like it, will make a valuable contribution to our understanding not just of the problems, but also the solutions. It is a fascinating collection of best practice, setting out the innovations which can accelerate economic growth, enhance energy security – and save our households and businesses money,” he added.
Germany, Italy, Japan and France make up the other top five places in the first-ever International Energy Efficiency Scorecard with the US, Brazil, Canada and Russia bringing up the rear. In the middle, in a three-way tie are the European Union as a whole, Australia and China.
The ranking scores each nation out of a possible 100 in 27 categories, including energy use in the buildings, industrial and transport sectors.
Taken in isolation, Germany scored top in its national efforts, China led in its tackling of energy use in buildings and the UK ranked first in the industrial sector. The transport sector was a tie between Italy, China, Germany and the UK.
The US, which ranks fourth from bottom of the table, scored well in the buildings section but came last in the transport category. Overall, the ACEEE accused the US of having made “little or no progress towards greater efficiency” at the national level.
“The UK and the leading economies of Europe are now well ahead of the US when it comes to energy efficiency,” says ACEEE executive director Steven Nadel. “This is significant because countries that use energy more efficiently require fewer resources to achieve the same goals, thus reducing costs, preserving valuable natural resources, and creating jobs.”
The 12 economies ranked by the ACEEE make up nearly 80% of global GDP, 63% of global energy consumption and 62% of global CO2 equivalent emissions.
But Nadel cautions that the results also show that the vast potential of energy efficiency is not being completely realized anywhere.
“While many countries achieved notable success, none received a perfect score in any category - proving that there is much that all countries can still learn from each other,” he says.
The US, in particular, needs to consider how it can compete in a global economy if it continues to waste money and energy that other industrialised nations save and reinvest, says the ACEEE.
The country need s new energy saving target and should drive efficiency in manufacturing through new financial incentives and investment in research and development.
The ACEEE says that the US also needs to retire old, inefficient power plants and use emission standards to encourage the deployment of the most efficient generation technologies.
On the issue of transport, where the US fared particularly badly, the US should consider a ‘pay-as-you-drive’ reorganisation of insurance, tighter fuel economy standards and more investment in public transport.
For further information:
UK reports 36% growth in renewables capacity in 12 months (2-Jul)
UK needs to pick up the pace of emissions reduction, says CCC (29-Jun)
CBI calls on UK government to review green taxes (18-Jun)
UK ramps up roll out of key efficiency policies (28-May)
13 July 2012