Road to Net Zero: Paving the Way with Appliance Energy Efficiency
After two weeks of discussion and commitments, the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) concluded on 11th November. Among the agreements was the largest global commitment to CO₂ reduction through appliance energy efficiency policy. The signatories of this 14 country-strong Product Efficiency Call to Action have pledged to prioritize a clean and affordable energy transition by focusing on improving the efficiency of at least one of four appliances that contribute to 40% of global electricity consumption.
By focusing on doubling the efficiency of industrial motor systems, air conditioners, refrigerators, and lighting, the 14 signatory governments could avoid CO₂ emissions equivalent to the output of 465 medium coal-fired power stations. The path to net zero emissions must be paved with these policies, which are critical to equitably addressing a global energy demand increase as more people gain access to appliances.
Advancing the Evidence for Ambitious Appliance Policy
The efficacy of appliance energy efficiency policies has been well documented in three recent reports: CLASP’s Pennies Per Pound analysis, which found that appliance policies cost well below the social cost of carbon; an impact overview by the IEA of such policies around the world, and a report from the ETC that includes energy efficiency as one of six top priorities in the pursuit of keeping warming to 1.5℃ or below. All add to the mounting evidence base that energy efficiency programmes are essential in reducing global emissions and are one of the most financially viable methods for emissions mitigation.
“Government commitments to adopt best-in-class building standards and product efficiencies should therefore be a priority at COP26.” – ETC, “Keeping 1.5 Alive”
Global Support for the Call to Action
In support of the Call to Action, a handful of world energy and business leaders, alongside the campaign partners, published five articles promoting fast action on appliance efficiency. In The Gift that Keeps Giving, CLASP’s Lauren Boucher promotes the principle of the “spillover” effect: when countries implement rigorous standards, other nations are pushed to do the same in attempt to facilitate international business, resulting in a reduction in emissions.
Arçelik CEO Hakan Bulgurlu penned a statement in support of technology neutral standards. He explains how they would remove protections for less efficient equipment, leveling the playing field for newer, efficient alternatives. Adoption of technology neutral standards would drive innovation and provide people access to the best options as they enter the market.
In Tackling the Cooling Crisis Now, CLASP’s Ana Maria Carreño shows the enormous impact that the estimated 1 billion air conditioners projected to be in use by 2050 will have on the climate. Many countries have started experiencing record high temperatures with each new year, making air conditioning efficiency a unique opportunity for emissions mitigation on a massive global scale.
Two global policy leaders, Kofi Agyarko of Ghana and Peter Bennich of Sweden, emphasized the need for governments to scale up appliance energy efficiency goals within their NDCs. Their editorial points out that current NDCs would lead to a 16% increase in emissions by 2030 and that an intensified focus on appliance energy efficiency would help close our daunting emissions gap.
“As countries come together in Glasgow to take further strides to tackle climate change, additional increases in product efficiency offer a win-win for NDC enhancement” – Kofi Agyarko and Peter Bennich
To accurately monitor the success of varying international appliance energy efficiency policies, the IEA developed the energy performance ladder framework, as mentioned in their article “A call to action on efficient and smart appliances.” Each product category would be evaluated on a standardized scale (the ladder) and progress would be graded by the number of “rungs” climbed via implementation by self-imposed deadlines. This framework would also act as a roadmap to guide governments on advancing efficiency policies.
Many civil society groups have also united behind an appeal urging governments to sign the Product Call to Action. Over 20 organizations that include universities and international organizations recognize how critical appliance efficiency is to limiting warming to 1.5°C.
“Governments must listen to the demand signals of businesses, including EP100’s Schneider Electric and Arçelik, who are showcasing their ambition at the COP26 Energy Day,” says Climate Group’s Corporate Partnerships Director Mike Peirce. “More than 40% of global electricity is consumed by just four products – air conditioners, refrigerators, industrial motor systems and lighting. This startling statistic shows the power of product efficiency to get the world on track to lower energy demand and significantly reduce emissions.” After the announcement of these groups’ support, four more countries agreed to sign on.
The post-COP26 revised NDCs and international pledges have revealed how much countries are willing to verbally commit to prioritizing climate mitigation work. The next step is execution, and joining the Product Efficiency Call to Action would mark the beginning of a robust, multiyear programme toward substantially reducing CO₂ emissions.
“The clock has very nearly timed out and action is needed now.” – Mike Peirce, Climate Group
For countries interested in joining the Call to Action, please contact Nick Jeffrey at email@example.com.
Updates on the Product Efficiency Call to Action will be tagged #DoubleDownOnEfficiency across social media.
For this effort, CLASP is joined by a consortium of partners including the International Energy Agency (IEA), UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (UK BEIS), and the Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) Initiative. The SEAD website will also house the Product Efficiency Opportunity Dashboards, which visually details the economic and energy savings of further appliance efficiency improvements in potential signatory nations.