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As heads of state and industry leaders convene in Sharm El-Sheikh for COP 27 this month, energy professionals hope to discuss the clean energy transition – of which energy efficiency is a critical component.According to the International Energy Agency, investments in energy efficiency alone can achieve 40% of the emissions reductions needed to meet Paris Agreement climate goals.

Energy efficiency investments in key areas like lighting and the building envelope not only reduce energy consumption but can bring cost savings to consumers. Already, new developments in the United States and Europe are seizing this opportunity to bring energy efficiency to the forefront of clean energy policy.

The U.S. Climate Bill Boosts Energy Efficiency

This summer, the U.S. Congress passed its most sweeping legislation to address climate change to date in the law known as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Decades in the making, the IRA puts the United States on a path to meeting its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals with strong and long-term federal policy support for clean energy and energy efficiency.

The IRA does this by restoring and greatly increasing energy efficiency tax credits that will financially encourage homeowners to invest in energy-efficient home upgrades. The law also includes $9 billion USD for energy efficiency rebates and efficient appliances, with most funds going to low- and moderate-income households.

Through investments in energy efficiency, clean energy, and more, the IRA is expected to reduce cumulative U.S. greenhouse emissions by about 6.3 billion tons over the next decade, according to research from the Princeton ZERO Lab.

These historic investments in the IRA build upon the U.S. federal policy foundation of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed in late 2021. The IIJA provided$80 billion in research, development, and deployment funding across a broad range of clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.

LED Lighting’s Potential in Europe

In Europe as well, many initiatives are already in place to increase energy efficiency. Connected LED lighting specifically can accelerate a cleaner future.

In fact, switching all light points in the 27 EU member states to LEDs could save €59.6 billion ($58bn) in energy costs and reduce CO2 emissions by 50.9 million tons, the equivalent of the annual emissions of almost 20 million cars or over 500 coal power plants.The potential unload of the electricity grid thanks to such a switch would be similarly vast and make way for the operation of more energy-efficient solutions.

At a country level, the numbers are similarly compelling. A complete switch to LEDs in Germany would deliver energy savings equivalent to the country’s entire electricity generated by Russian gas. And in France? The equivalent of 70% of the electricity produced by all fossil fuels.

While these numbers shine a light on LEDs potential on a country level, focusing in on what municipalities can do is perhaps most important.

An LED switch in a large metropolitan city would 7TH ISSUE-ENERGY EFFICIENCY & COOLING IN AFRICA – 17

unload enough electricity to charge almost 60,000 cars annually, while 10,000 could be charged in a medium-sized town. Even without input from major cities, this shows that the sum of lots of smaller projects could have a huge impact across a country’s municipal network.

Meeting the Energy Efficiency Opportunity

The time to act on energy efficiency is now. Unlocking the massive potential of energy efficiency – recognizing we currently waste half of the energy we use – is a winning lottery ticket worldwide. It strongly reduces carbon emissions and results in significant savings on energy bills for cities, consumers, and businesses.

BCSE and Signify are excited to connect with the global community at COP 27 and work toward building a more energy-efficient future

About the authors 

Lisa Jacobson is the President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE). BCSE is a clean energy trade association representing the broad portfolio of energy efficiency, natural gas, and renewable energy industries, as well as energy storage, sustainable transportation, and emerging decarbonization technology providers.

Harry Verhaar is the Head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Signify. Signify produces energy-efficient lighting products that bring light and the data they collect to devices, places, and people