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At the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in September 2016, Leaders discussed and reached consensus on a wide range of topics related to the creation of an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy, as well as other issues. Among these topics, energy efficiency was highlighted as a key priority. The endorsement by Leaders of the G20 Energy Efficiency Leading Programme (EELP) placed energy efficiency in a prominent position within the framework of global policy issues, providing a crucial foundation to further promote international collaboration on energy efficiency. Recognized as an important measure to enhance energy security, optimize the energy mix and improve environmental quality, many countries have developed medium-to long-term energy efficiency goals. The European Union put forward “20-20-20” as part of its 2020 Climate and Energy Package, and Germany set a target of reducing primary energy demand by 50 percent by 2050. The Chinese government also attaches great importance to energy efficiency. From the very early stages of economic reform to now, energy conservation and energy efficiency have been a key strategic component of China’s Five Year Plans. Since 2005, China has set energy intensity, measured by energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP), as an indicator of national socio-economic development. With the global economic downturn, all countries are facing great challenges to accelerate their development and transformation into low-carbon economies. As an important platform for global economic and energy governance, the G20 is an important body that can deliver on global climate change objectives and needs to play a leading role in driving energy efficiency improvements. It can do so by:

  1. Playing a key role in promoting energy efficiency as a key measure to address climate change. The Paris Agreement adopted in 2015 elevated the issue of climate change to a new priority level on the international agenda. Research from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius, energy efficiency improvement needs to account for about 57 percent of energy related emissions – making it the most cost-effective measure to reduce energy related greenhouse gas.
  2. Realizing the full potential of energy efficiency to create economic Continuous energy efficiency improvements can generate multiple benefits, such as energy capacity, new markets, and a new growth dynamic for economic development. For example, energy efficiency has led to the development in China of more than 5,000 SMEs over the past ten years specializing in energy savings, generating revenues of about USD 50 billion and creating nearly 600,000 jobs. Energy efficiency has also helped avoid 30 million tons of coal equivalent (tce) in energy consumption for traditional energy industries, and brought new momentum for the transformation and upgrading of economic development.
  3. Recognizing energy efficiency as a driver to improve environmental quality of the environment. Developing countries, in particular, are faced with increasingly severe energy and environmental constraints due to high population density, economic development and rising income levels. Significantly improving energy efficiency, including the efficiency of end use products, buildings, and industrial parks and cities, can strongly contribute to meet growing energy demand. It can also play an important role in improving people’s livelihood and welfare by reducing emissions from various pollutants and improving the city environment.
  4. Integrating energy efficiency as a key pillar of the energy transition. Energy technology breakthroughs have in the past been essential drivers of industrial They are however not static – breakthroughs are continuous and ongoing, and have led to such technological innovations as global energy interconnections, electric vehicles, energy storage technology, and 3D printing. There are tremendous opportunities for developed and developing countries alike to reshape their energy production and consumption systems through the application of new technologies. Currently, we are witnessing a new round of technological breakthroughs in global energy development. Increasing energy efficiency is necessary to seize the opportunities available to drive the energy transition and enhance international competitiveness.

 Graspingthe new opportunities for international cooperation on energy efficiency.

There is great potential to improve energy efficiency globally in the long-term. To achieve the dual goal of economic growth and sustainable development, both developed and developing countries should continue to significantly improve energy The G20 comprises of developed and developing economies and therefore allows for the effective strengthening of energy efficiency cooperation. In the context of the current slowdown in economic and trade activity, strengthening exchange and cooperation on energy efficiency, innovative technology, best practices, and business models can become drivers to boost global economic growth, employment and sustainable development. China benefits from international collaboration and likewise should also contribute to energy efficiency improvements internationally. In its new position as the world’s largest energy producer and consumer, China has the responsibility, obligation and ability to play a leading role in energy efficiency. Taking the opportunity of theG20 Energy Efficiency leading Programme, China should continue to promote energy efficiency through the proactive exchange of advanced technology, products and services, and to jointly advance the universal goals of sustainable development and climate change mitigation with countries.

Dai Yande, Director General, Energy Research Institute (ERI) of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China

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