International Energy Agency presents energy efficiency plan to make Russian gas and oil obsolete
As the world faces an almost unprecedented energy crisis, the International Energy Agency (IEA) intends to once again put energy efficiency at the forefront of policy makers’ concerns.
During its 7th World Energy Efficiency Conference, held in Sonderborg, Denmark, the IEA sought to convince policy makers around the world of the merits of energy efficiency policies, while providing a strategic guide of political measures to accompany them.
“Energy efficiency is a key solution to many of the world’s most pressing challenges”said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA.
According to an IEA analysis presented at the conference, the world could achieve massive energy savings by the end of the decade by doubling down on ambition while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions.
“Double the current global rate of improvement in energy intensity to 4% per year” compared to current policies would save 95 exajoules per year, which is China’s current annual energy consumption, the IEA said.
Concretely, this would translate into a saving of 30 million barrels of oil per day, triple Russia’s production in 2021. In addition, this dual ambition would reduce fossil gas consumption by 650 billion cubic meters. , four times the EU’s imports from the Kremlin.
However, this requires the political leaders of the countries of the North to commit themselves. “This is the first global energy crisis the world is facing”Birol told attendees, noting that the current situation goes well beyond the oil crisis of the 1970s.
“This crisis could well be a turning point in the energy policy of the years to come”he added.
The IEA has invited leading energy policy makers from around the world, from New Zealander Megan Woods to Panamanian Rosilena Lindo, to seize the momentum. Each of them will be given the IEA’s two-step action strategy guide.
Guided by ten overarching principles ranging from “acting to unlock the job-creating potential of efficiency” to “leveraging behavioral insights for more effective policy”the agency provides detailed guidance to promote energy efficiency in the building, vehicle and other sectors.
If policymakers are successful, the IEA promises massive savings for consumers, on the order of $650 billion a year.
But for Russia’s biggest customer, the European Union, there may be another motivation to help make Russian fossil fuels obsolete.
A bogus embargo?
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent alleged war crimes against the Ukrainian people, the EU imposed a number of sanctions against the Russian regime.
But the bloc had mostly refrained from imposing sweeping sanctions on energy imports from the Kremlin, which constitute a large part of the country’s revenue.
From August 2022, a ban on Russian coal will come into effect, and the bloc will ban shipments of Russian crude oil and refined petroleum products from 2023. These measures have exposed rifts in the unity of 27 EU Member States.
With the leaders of Austria, Belgium and Germany having made clear their hostility to a possible embargo on Russian fossil gas, energy efficiency could act as a virtual embargo.
“Energy efficiency is essential for us to be less dependent on Russian oil and gas”said Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s Energy Minister.
“That’s one of the things we can deploy in the short term. And there’s huge potential.”he told EURACTIV.
The European executive is also fully aware of this. “No matter how hard we try to develop renewable energies and find alternative sources of supply”reducing dependence on Russia would require energy efficiency, said Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.
“We will not find sufficient volumes to replace Russian gas on world markets”she added.
Ms Simson said that energy efficiency was already at the heart of the Green Deal, but the recent energy price crisis has changed the “payback time of energy efficiency measures”she added.
“The EU Energy Efficiency Directive and its recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive would play a crucial role” in reducing the EU’s dependence on Russia and continuing to phase out fossil fuels at the same time, she told EURACTIV.
In addition, the recovery plan for post-COVID-19 Europe would serve to promote energy efficiency. “Many EU countries have told us that they aim to improve energy efficiency through the recovery plan fund”said the commissioner.