IEA tells governments to stop talking and start implementing

November 13, 2012

Officials at the International Energy Agency (IEA) have issued a plea to global policy-makers  to start focusing on actually implementing energy efficiency systems as opposed to looking for cheaper alternatives.

At a meeting in London, the chief economist for the IEA predicted that global warming and climate change would still catch some governments off-guard, with many of them not organized enough to take advantage of any advances in green technology and energy efficient buildings. Fatih Birol told attendees at the presentation of the 2012 World Energy Outlook that he could see "a growing momentum in many countries to push the energy efficiency button," but the majority of governments were still failing to implement reasonable time frames or requirements for industry to adopt agreed standards.

"Energy ministries are often left to tackle the problem alone, but they need to work together with policy-makers in the areas of finance, construction, industry and transport," said Birol, according to Nature.com. "Energy efficiency remains an epic failure in most nations’ energy policies. Climate change is slipping down the agenda, and the costs of inaction are rising."

Despite Birol's belief that governments are failing to appreciate the potential effects of climate change, the U.S. government has made energy efficient buildings and green technology a priority. The Department of Energy has financed and supported a number of initiatives throughout the country, the most prominent of which is the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) in Greater Philadelphia. This consortium of institutions, energy development companies, private sector interests and government officials has been proactive in pursuing a green agenda, with the wide scale transformation of inefficient buildings seen as a model for the rest of the country to follow.

However, the IEA believes that the energy efficiency momentum is moving to the East, citing consumer demand in China as one reason why the West is falling behind. Scientists have projected that the global temperature could increase by as much as 2 °C by 2017, but the IEA is confident that increasing the focus of governments onto actual energy efficient construction instead of just a number of pilot projects could see the temperature increase halved.

"The centerof gravity in global energy use is shifting to the East," said Maria van der Hoeven, the IEA’s executive director. "Yet by adopting measures such as fuel-economy standards, new building codes and requirements for more efficient power plants, by 2035 the world could halve that projected increase."