Energy Efficiency – Why Canada must do more



WASHINGTON, D.C. July 17, 2014 —Germany wins “World Cup” of Energy Efficiency  placing first in a new energy efficiency ranking of the world’s major economies, followed by Italy, the European Union as a whole, China, and France.

Canada place 10th out of the 16 nations rated, finishing ahead of the United States (13th).

The 2014 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard published by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), evaluates 16 Leading World Economies on 31 Categories. New to the rankings this year are four nations: India, Mexico, South Korea, and Spain.

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Now in its second edition, the ACEEE report finds that, while some countries are still significantly outperforming others, there are substantial opportunities for improved energy efficiency in all economies analyzed, including the U.S., which ranked 13th out of 16 nations – behind countries such as China, Canada, and India.

The rankings are modeled on ACEEE’s time-tested approach to energy efficiency ranking of U.S. states, and include 16 of the world’s largest economies: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. These 16 economies represent over 81 percent of global gross domestic product and 71 percent of global energy consumption.

On a scale of 100 possible points in 31 categories, the nations were ranked by ACEEE as follows: (1) Germany; (2) Italy; (3) the European Union; (tied for 4) China; (tied for 4) France; (tied for 6) Japan; (tied for 6) United Kingdom; (8) Spain; (9) Canada; (10) Australia; (11) India; (12) South Korea; (13) United States; (14) Russia; (15) Brazil; and (16) Mexico.

Overall, Canada received 50 out of a possible 100 points, with particular mention for  setting efficiency standards for appliances and equipment, and for the “EnerGuide” labelling program.

But Canada is one of the worst performers when it comes to vehicle miles travelled per person. Only Australia and the United States are worse. National investment in rail transit is low in Canada compared to most countries.

Quoted in a Toronto Star article, report co-author Sara Hayes noted that Canadians can’t simply shrug off the findings as a consequence of higher heating costs and low population density, the report’s authors say, because the rankings reflect adjustments for climate and geography.

“We accounted for those differences, adjusting Canada’s scores for the number of days above or below the average of 65 F (18 C), for example — and when you factor these things in, Canada still ranks pretty low.” 

In terms of energy use per capita, Canadians placed last at 5.69 tonnes of oil equivalent per person — twice that of the average Russian (2.98) and nearly six times that of category-topping Brazil.

ACEEE divided the 31 metrics across four groupings: those that track cross-cutting aspects of energy use at the national level, as well as the three sectors primarily responsible for energy consumption in an economically developed country — buildings, industry, and transportation. The top-scoring countries in each grouping are: E.U., France, and Italy (three-way tie for national efforts); China (buildings); Germany (industry); and Italy (transportation).

By reducing or limiting energy demand, energy efficiency measures can increase resilience against a variety of risks, stress on energy infrastructure, and disruptions to energy supply systems.

ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said: Germany is a prime example of a nation that has made energy efficiency a top priority. The United States, long considered an innovative and competitive world leader, has progressed slowly and has made limited progress since our last report, even as Germany, Italy, China, and other nations surge ahead.”

These scores suggest that countries that top the list may have an economic advantage over the remainder because using less energy to produce and transport the same economic output costs them less. Their efforts to improve efficiency likely make their economies more nimble and resilient.

Rachel Young, ACEEE Research Analyst and lead author of the report said: Countries that use energy more efficiently use fewer resources to achieve the same goals, thus reducing costs, preserving valuable natural resources, and gaining a competitive edge over other countries.”

In addition to expanding the list of global economies included in the ranking, there have been other changes made since the 2012 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard. New metrics have been added and several existing metrics have been improved with better data sources and increased input from country experts.

The new metrics include water efficiency policy, agricultural efficiency, building retrofit policies, heavy-duty fuel efficiency standards, and investment in energy efficiency by the private sector.

The ACEEE ranking system looks at both “policy metrics” and “performance metrics” to measure a country’s overall energy efficiency. Examples of “policy metrics” include the presence of a national energy savings target, fuel economy standards for vehicles, and energy efficiency standards for appliances.

The “performance metrics” measure energy use and provide quantifiable results. Examples of “performance metrics” include average miles per gallon of on-road passenger vehicles and energy consumed per square foot of floor space in residential buildings.

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