We must start using energy efficiently

There is huge potential in almost every sphere of life for much greater efficiency in the use of energy.
From heavy industry to transport, buildings and consumer electronics, cost effective modifications and redesign can typically cut energy use by 30-80%.

Energy conservation and efficiency measures are, in the long run, the most cost-effective options to reduce emissions and decrease dependency on expensive and volatile oil and gas imports, which are limited anyway.

The trick is to leverage funding for the relatively high capital costs of the most efficient equipment.

In addition to the energy-related technologies, there is a great need to develop and mainstream new materials such as lightweight carbon fibres, which are much less carbon- and energy-intensive and have a long life-time.
New and innovative market entrants such as those from the nano-, bio- and information technologies offer huge opportunities for developing new and highly efficient materials.

The key is to develop all these technologies and more, make them cheaper and spread them round the world.

Time is of the essence now

Research for WWF shows that, despite very high and early growth rates for newly emerging technologies, no industry (including renewable energy) can grow for long periods at more than 30% a year once a certain scale has been reached.

The researchers investigated the available energy technologies and concluded that if the world is to keep global warming below 2ºC, we have to start that 30% growth rate for a wide range of energy technologies as soon as possible, but by 2014 at the latest.

If not, the target may be missed.

So why delay?

Transition to a low carbon economy can be a launching pad for NEW JOBS and INDUSTRIES, new markets and a more efficient and productive as well as greener economy – locally, nationally and globally.

Eventually, the world needs to base its economic wealth on renewable resources and replace fossil fuel materials (plastics, wrappings, etc.), cement, steel and aluminium with wood and other biomass-based resources.

 / ©: paint for the planet / Laurent Ipperciel, Canada
International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment organized by UNEP, the Foundation for Global Peace and Environment, Bayer and Nikon.
© paint for the planet / Laurent Ipperciel, Canada

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