A new report from the Climate Action Tracker has concluded that we have at our fingertips the opportunity to make huge emissions reductions by applying the highest existing minimum energy performance and labeling standards for lighting and appliances in buildings.
In a new analysis published last week, the Climate Action Tracker — an independent scientific analysis produced by Climate Analytics, Ecofys, and the NewClimate Institute — concluded that if the highest existing minimum energy performance and labeling standards were applied around the world, they could result in energy savings of 4,500 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2030, the equivalent of closing 1,140 average coal-fired power plants (or around 600 megawatts (MW)).
Further, if we were to combine these highest standards with low-carbon electricity, we could reduce annual emissions by 5.2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) in 2030, a decrease of 60% compared to business as usual.
“More efficient appliances and lights use less electricity and therefore help the power sector to phase out emissions from fossil fuels, a crucial enabling factor towards achieving the 1.5°C warming limit,” said Dr Ursula Fuentes of Climate Analytics.
The premise behind the study is relatively simple, as explained by the authors: “Increasing the energy efficiency of appliances and lighting decreases final energy demand and will help to attain faster overall decarbonisation of the power sector, a crucial enabling factor to stay within a 1.5˚C warming limit.” In other words, while it is dramatically important for society to transition to low-carbon electricity generation, it is similarly important for consumers to modify our patterns of behaviour. This requires both nationally enforced standards legislation and a willingness on the part of consumers.
The analysis is based on case studies from around the world, such as India’s effective program to address the higher costs of LED lights, which has resulted in more than 230 million LED bulbs sold to Indian households since 2014 and produced electricity savings of more than 30 TWh annually and avoided peak demand of 6,000 MW.
“What we found amounts to an obvious business case, with tremendous opportunities for both manufacturers and customers,” explained Yvonne Deng of Ecofys, a Navigant company.
Similarly, in France, non-residential buildings must switch off their lights at night in an effort to reduce both energy waste and light pollution. This program has resulted in annual electricity savings comparable to the consumption of 750,000 households and is set to lower CO2 emissions by 250 kilotonnes (kt) and reduce costs for French businesses by €200 million.
“We found examples around the world where people are reaping the benefits by switching off lights in cities at night, switching to LEDs, smart lighting and smart metering, apps provided by energy companies to encourage customers to save energy or to use appliances at off-peak hours,” said Prof Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute.