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Energy effuciency – the most ignored form of climate action – and the most effective

Times 12th May 2021, Energy efficiency can sometimes be overlooked as a way of tackling climate
change amid the enthusiasm for electric vehicles and renewables. But simply
reducing the amount of energy required to achieve the same ends is a hugely
effective tool in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The least polluting form of energy is, after all, the energy we do not use. Investment in
energy efficiency faltered in the pandemic. As energy prices dropped, so
did the incentive to use less of it. At the same time, businesses
struggling to stay afloat cut spending.

The International Energy Agency
says this trend is especially worrying because energy efficiency is
expected to deliver more than 40 per cent of the required cuts in
energy-related greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 years. Investment
is likely to pick up again as regulation forces firms to address their
carbon emissions.

While the big wins in terms of cutting carbon will come
from changing how we heat buildings and insulating them better, reducing
energy consumption with more efficient lighting and appliances is an easy
first step.


May 13, 2021 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY


  1. The most ignored and the most effective? Many dispute both those claims. Efficiency has long been touted by capitalist governments and corporations alike as a means to sell more appliances and gizmos, whether they deliver the promised efficiencies or not.

    “In economics, the Jevons paradox occurs when technological progress or government policy increases the efficiency with which a resource is used (reducing the amount necessary for any one use), but the rate of consumption of that resource rises due to increasing demand. The Jevons paradox is perhaps the most widely known paradox in environmental economics. However, governments and environmentalists generally assume that efficiency gains will lower resource consumption, ignoring the possibility of the paradox arising. In addition to reducing the amount needed for a given use, improved efficiency also lowers the relative cost of using a resource, which increases the quantity demanded. This counteracts (to some extent) the reduction in use from improved efficiency. Additionally, improved efficiency increases real incomes and accelerates economic growth, further increasing the demand for resources. The Jevons paradox occurs when the effect from increased demand predominates, and improved efficiency increases the speed at which resources are used.”

    If we don’t grasp the nettle of ending economic growth and ending capitalism, we will be grasping at straws and will sink.

    Comment by John Smith | May 13, 2021 | Reply

    • A good point. I had been thinking of energy efficiency more as conserving energy – in a more general sense, nty only in buildings – simply- using less energy – less of the electric and fossil fuel kinds.

      Comment by Christina MacPherson | May 13, 2021 | Reply

      • Energy efficiency in the accepted sense is not the same at all as action to reduce the need for energy creation. This is the degrowth paradigm, one which cuts at the root of modern, high-energy societies and economies. There are many problems and difficulties to be overcome in even deciding what we need as humans and what should be discarded but the goal is very different than that promoted by governments, corporations and retailers hawking the latest energy efficiency gizmo.

        Comment by John Smith | May 13, 2021

      • So many other ways that people can cut down on energy use – like walking or cycling, instead of short car trips
        like growing some vines – providing shade in summer, sun in winter…… Surely insulation is worth doing. Warming or cooling just one room at a time, not a whole big house. But I do get your message .

        Comment by Christina MacPherson | May 13, 2021

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