With the Paris Agreement, 192 countries agree to implement measures to prevent Earth warming up beyond 2°C on average by the end of the century. That’s the tolerance threshold to avoid a scenario of wild unpredictable catastrophe and chaos. Among the measures to cut down on greenhouse gases emissions, energy efficiency measures generate the highest benefits and spill-over effects. They can potentially:
- provide 1/3 of the abating effort to keep the planet cool and avert obnoxious climate shocks
- make our buildings more comfortable, sustainable and less polluted
- alleviate energy poverty
- drastically reduce airborne smog and pollution in our cities
- generate wealth, green jobs and ventures
However, about 68% of global energy uses remain unregulated by efficiency standards and the pace of new mandatory and voluntary policies is not accelerating enough! We owe current efficiency gains to policies of the past.
European efficiency targets
With the Climate & Energy Package, the EU has engaged its Member States to a binding target of +20% in energy efficiency (with respect to the business as usual scenario) to be achieved by 2020. Consequently, with the new Climate & Energy Framework, the target raises to +32.5% by 2030. By 2050, with Europe long-term strategy of carbon neutrality, energy efficiency and energy conservation will be top priorities at every level, in line with the “efficiency first” EU claim.
The bar chart below shows EU Member States primary energy consumption and indicative national energy efficiency targets for 2020.
Click on images below to expand.
Ireland must be compliant with European targets and submit its National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) to report on tracking and improvements. How is it faring so far? Okay, but not enough.
Last assessment (2017) accounted for 18,654 GWh of energy saved out of the targeted 31,925. By 2020, all being equal (no additional measures), projections indicate that Ireland will close with 6,021 GWh in excess. In other words, just 16% of the 20% mandate will be secured. This doesn’t place Ireland in a favourable position to deliver the subsequent target of 32.5% by 2030.
Households, firms and the public sectors need clearer signals of credibility from the government in terms of conspicuous and more accessible incentive schemes – that will eventually more than repay in a short timeframe. Energy efficiency policies in Ireland are administered by SEAI.