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Overcoming barriers to investing in energy efficiency: new study brings insights to accelerate climate action

By State of Green, February 02, 2018

Improving energy efficiency is an important aspect of the decarbonisation journey. A new report released by UNECE and the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency examines how barriers to investment in energy efficiency can be overcome.

Energy efficiency is widely viewed as one of the most effective ways to achieve multiple economic, social and environmental benefits, such as improved health and well-being, cleaner air, improved economic productivity and employment creation to name but a few. However, it is estimated that two-thirds of the global economic potential for energy efficiency remains untapped.

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Achieving greater levels of energy efficiency implementation at a global level is an essential dimension of climate action, and is considered fundamental to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. An overwhelming majority of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to the agreement submitted by countries recognize energy efficiency as a primary delivery strategy. Furthermore, improving energy efficiency will aid in making significant progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the targets (target 7.3) of SDG7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all), is to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. Regarded as a low hanging fruit, addressing energy efficiency is often the natural starting point for many countries looking to move towards a decarbonised energy system.

While significant progress has been made in the energy efficiency sphere, there exists considerable room for improvement. In 2015, global improvement in energy intensity was 1.8 percent, which falls short of the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) objective of 2.6 percent, something the IEA highlights as a necessary step on the road towards a decarbonised energy system. To effectively mitigate climate change and realize the transition to clean and sustainable development, energy efficiency actions need to be accelerated.

In order to address this challenge and effectively support countries and cities to raise their ambition and realize their targets and goals for improving energy efficiency, a new study, Overcoming Barriers to Investing in Energy Efficiency, looks into challenges and ways to overcome them.

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The practitioners’ point of view
A vast body of research already exists on the topic of energy efficiency investments and the barriers that prevent the potential of improving energy efficiency from being fully realized. The publication contributes fresh perspectives to the issue by bringing to light the valuable insights on the challenges and solutions for overcoming barriers to energy efficiency investments provided by practitioners working in the field, obtained through a survey of UNECE countries, as well as countries beyond the region.  UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova and John Christensen, Director of UNEP DTU Partnership, underline that the analysis of the survey and its conclusions and recommendations can serve as a useful tool for the energy efficiency community. Firstly, it may prove useful for policy makers who can apply the results to the situation in their countries and find approaches to improve the investment climate for energy efficiency. This may include, where appropriate, improving regulatory frameworks, including implementation and enforcement; making financial institutions more aware of energy efficiency financing and reducing perception of its high risk; and raising awareness about the multiple benefits of energy efficiency projects.

Source: The study is the outcome of a collaboration between UNECE and the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency, as part of the UNEP DTU Partnership. The report can be accessed in full here

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