• Paris Agreement
  • Distributed Energy Resources
  • Conferences and Events
  • Decarbonization
  • Energy Efficiency

Global Climate Action Summit Needs to Drive Scaling of Energy Efficiency

Sep 25, 2018

Government 2

Mid-September brought together business, civil society, and government leaders from around the globe to reaffirm their commitments to hitting the Paris Climate Agreement targets at the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS). Set midway between the Paris Agreement’s 2016 entry into force and the 2020 goal for renewed climate pledges, the 2018 GCAS is a strategic tool to reinvigorate the global community’s commitment to keeping temperature rise beneath 1.5°C. Developing healthy energy systems is a major theme of the GCAS, and energy efficiency targets will play a critical role in realizing this ambitious goal.

A Conference of Commitments

Renewable energy and clean fuels filled the GCAS agenda as investors, business executives, and heads of government came together to share success stories and challenges surrounding their efforts to decarbonize the economy. Delegates explored the differences between 100% carbon free and 100% renewable energy. They not only discussed the mechanics of clean technologies but also what their distributed use means for inclusive communities and economic growth. Notably, US business leaders showed up to commit to carbon free and renewable energy goals as part of a movement to prove #WeAreStillIn after the country announced its intended withdrawal. By the close of the first day of the summit the following commitments were made:

  • Wells Fargo announced a $200 billion commitment toward sustainable financing
  • Sunrun committed to developing 100 MW of solar on affordable housing in California
  • Lyft committed to full carbon neutrality

Each promise is a critical component to achieving the overarching goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. And while talk of energy efficiency likely flooded the delegate floor, any resulting commitments need to be made equally public. To hit the ambitious Paris Climate Agreement goals, we not only need to transition away from fossil fuels, but also need to use less energy overall.

Energy Efficiency as a Scalable Demand-Side Management Tool

Energy efficiency programs are critical demand-side management tools to achieve a decarbonized economy. Guidehouse Insights finds that scaling up energy efficiency across all sectors is one of the most important mechanisms by which to maximize stakeholder impacts in the near term of the Energy Cloud transformation. Energy efficiency offers immediate returns as capital is freed up through increased savings. Further, companies that have conducted efficiency audits using large market actor datasets have reported between 20% and 30% savings. As summit delegates think about economic growth and community well-being, it’s worth noting that the energy efficiency industry in the US employs more than 2.25 million people. It is expected to remain the fastest-growing energy jobs sector in the country as many states strengthen energy efficiency targets and utilities work to ensure grid reliability.

Growth trends in energy efficiency are not restricted to the US as countries worldwide are developing demand-side management programs. Guidehouse Insights’ 2017 report, Market Data: Global Energy Efficiency Spending, indicates an expected increase in global investment in this lowest cost resource for load management.

With renewed momentum coming out of the GCAS, energy efficiency should be a distributed energy resource tool examined across all global sectors. A healthy energy system must be an efficient energy system.