As global demand for energy, water, and food increases, we must improve energy efficiency to expand access to electricity and meet the needs of a growing population in sustainable ways.
That was the message delivered by Kandeh Yumkella, co-chair of the high-level group leading the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, to experts at the Fifth EE Global, an annual conference on energy efficiency, on March 28.
Yumkella, also secretary-general of the UN Industrial Development Organization, underscored the need to double the rate of gain in energy efficiency by 2030, one of three goals of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. The other two are achieving universal access to electricity and clean household fuels, and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
With rapid economic growth in Asia and Latin America propelling 3 billion people into the middle class in coming years, Yumkella said, energy efficiency is essential. Gains can be achieved, he said, by behavior changes in every household, industry, and business, as well as through efforts to build markets for energy efficiency.
Among the latter, he highlighted the market potential in reducing the 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas flared every year in association with oil production, which produces about 400 million tons of CO2 emissions. The World Bank manages a Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership, which supports countries and companies seeking progress on this front.
EE message reinforced by World Bank
Yumkella’s points were reinforced and complemented by Vijay Iyer, director of the World Bank’s Sustainable Energy department, who spoke on the same plenary panel at the EE Global meeting in Orlando, Florida.
Iyer said the Bank and other international financial institutions are working to encourage governments to enact policy incentives that help foster markets for energy efficiency, while also seeking new tools to provide finance.
“We — the international financial institutions — need to facilitate private sector investment by mitigating risk in countries where investors are uncertain,” he said. To achieve this, Iyer noted that the Bank is supporting projects, many blended with innovative climate finance instruments, to encourage local domestic banks to lend to companies and governments wanting to make investments in energy efficiency.