More energy efficiency efforts needed, says IEA

Agency urges rapid action to overcome lead-time delays, highlights good practices

Energy efficiency measures by European and other industrialised countries in the last three years are insufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with national climate policy commitments, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Although "many new policies and measures" have been implemented recently, "additional efforts" are needed as the period before the Kyoto protocol deadline is "short" in relation to the lead-time required for markets to react and deliver energy efficiency improvements. The report is a first review of energy efficiency measures taken by IEA countries since 1996. European members of the organisation comprise the 15 EU countries, Norway, Switzerland and Hungary. While concluding that overall progress is too slow, the report outlines several positive initiatives started since 1996. In the commercial and residential construction sector, France is revising building regulations to achieve a 25% improvement in energy efficiency and seven other countries are in the process of tightening the standards for energy performance in buildings. In the industrial sector, energy auditing initiatives, where companies reduce consumption and are rewarded with lower tax rates have shown "good results," while voluntary agreements with governments to improve industrial energy efficiency in return for more flexible implementation options have produced "striking" results in the Netherlands and are currently being concluded for energy intensive industry in France.

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