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Accelerating the Transition towards Energy-Efficient Markets Worldwide

By John Holland
President, International Copper Association

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General, has declared the next ten years to be the decade of Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL). One of SE4ALL’s goals is to double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. The copper industry has an important role to play in energy efficiency and climate change mitigation and is committed to ensuring this important goal is realized through the International Copper Association (ICA) and its partners around the world.

More than 70 percent of copper today is used to conduct energy. It is the world’s best non-precious conductor of heat and electricity. Products that contain copper tend to operate more efficiently, which reduces energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Copper can also be recycled indefinitely without losing its properties.



Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency  Must Go Hand-in-Hand

According to the International Energy Agency, global electricity consumption will increase 60 percent by 2030 and the vast majority of this growth will occur in non-OECD countries, where electricity consumption is set to double. Meeting this increased demand will require a massive build-out of electrical grids. Without action much of this will be done utilizing outdated technologies that will send CO2 emissions soaring. The integration of renewable energy systems will be vital to meeting future energy needs in an environmentally responsible manner. Indeed, SE4ALL also calls for a doubling of renewable energy as part of the global energy mix by 2030. However, renewables must be balanced with efficiency because the most efficient unit of energy is the one that is never generated at all.



Increased efficiency offers the most effective path forward towards helping the world’s governments meet their energy needs and climate change mitigation targets. By making energy-consuming products more efficient, the need to develop new energy sources can be minimized and, at the same time, CO2 emissions can be reduced significantly. This is a key point: all too often, there is decoupling of discussions on energy efficiency and CO2 reduction. In reality, these two concepts go hand-in-hand. It is time the world’s governments make commitments to actions that emphasize the importance of energy efficiency as part of their overall energy and climate strategies.


Efficient Appliances Global Partnership Program

The International Copper Association has joined forces with like-minded organizations: two leading UN agencies – the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the UN Development Program (UNDP); CLASP (the Collaborative Labeling and Appliance Standard Program); and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The partnership programme is focused on the acceleration of market transformations, based on minimum energy performance standards, or MEPS, in appliances and industrial equipment. The high-impact products include motors, residential refrigerators and air conditioners, lighting, distribution transformers, and information technology. By 2030, these six product areas will account for 60 percent of global electricity consumption. And the technologies exist – today – to make all of them more efficient.


Global market transformations towards efficient products in these six areas means electricity consumption can be reduced by 10 percent in 2030, which is equivalent to the yearly consumption of the European Union. With increased efficiency in these six product areas, global CO2 emissions can be reduced by 1.25 gigatonnes, which is equivalent to the emissions of half a billion cars. And finally, there is a strong economic benefit as the end-users of these products will collectively save 350 billion dollars each year, leading to positive economic impact at macro and micro levels.


The founding members of the Efficient Appliances Global Partnership Programme bring the necessary experience and global networks and resources to make these challenging goals a reality. There is strong evidence that public-private partnerships can be successful in transforming markets. Here is an outstanding example: by 2016 more than 80 percent of the world’s population will live in countries that will have phased out inefficient lighting, due to a worldwide network of market transformation programs, such as the UNEP-led en.Lighten initiative. This success is unprecedented, and was only possible through public and private sector engagement.


Call to Action

It would be an understatement to say that energy security and climate change are two of humankind’s most pressing challenges. The actions we take today will define the quality of life for many generations to come. There is evidence of a growing recognition that these great societal burdens cannot be overcome by governments, the United Nations, industry or individuals alone. Alliances and partnerships are needed now to take consolidated action.

This Efficient Appliances Global Partnership Programme has been recognized as an “Energy Efficiency Accelerator” under the UN’s SE4ALL initiative. Start-up funding has been secured through a generous contribution of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the founding partners have already committed significant resources to develop and launch the partnership and to bring governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean onboard. The copper industry and its partners are committed to delivering new levels of energy efficiency in developing countries and to making a significant contribution to mitigate climate change, but we cannot do it alone.

The Efficient Appliances Global Partnership Programme is seeking to partner with the leading appliance and equipment manufacturers that can provide the resources and technical expertise that will help transform markets. We call on the financial community – in particular the global and regional development banks – to join us, to provide countries with the financial mechanisms that will give governments the confidence to move forward with higher efficiency standards. We invite like-minded organizations around the globe and major international financial institutions and development banks to join forces with us and reach a global change. And finally, we encourage the world’s governments to join our partnership programme, which stands ready to assist them in implementing improved policies and actions with regard to efficiency in products.



Our goals are significant, but feasible. With a collaborative effort we can:

  • Reduce global electricity consumption by 10 percent
  • Reduce CO2 emissions by more than one gigatonne per year, equivalent to the emissions of 500 million cars
  • Create billions of dollars of economic benefit for governments, industries and individuals


The methodologies and technologies exist – here and now – to achieve these goals. It is now time to join forces and take action.

To learn more about the Efficient Appliances Global Partnership Programme, please contact Kornelia Guse, UN Environment Programme, at kornelia.guse@unep.org.




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