World is changing constantly. Some changes are evolutionary, due to political, economic and social development, some come as a rapid revolution, for instance due to innovations and ground- breaking ideas. Global warming is an evolutionary change that will have a revolutionary impact on our lives.
It will touch upon all spheres of our activity – economic, social, individual and environmental. It is a matter of the existence of future generations and a challenge that requires a global answer.
COP24 in Katowice in December 2018 marked a beginning of a transformation. Adoption of Katowice Rulebook was both a huge victory of multilateral approach to global challenges and a reassurance for all countries ready and willing to start their profound low-emission transformation that the goal and the rules are clear and equal for everybody. Our approach to energy production and consumption is a cornerstone of this transformation.
Energy efficiency is an important tool to make energy transformation efficient. It goes beyond the traditional instruments of energy policy, that try to balance the goals of energy security, cost efficiency and low environmental footprint: with an improved energy efficiency we can lower energy supply, thereby
lowering the costs and environmental impacts, and minimise the risk of mismatch with energy demand. It contributes to improvement of life quality and public health. Moreover, energy efficiency requirements ignite innovations and technological developments, much needed in all sectors of the economy.
For these reasons, European Union included energy efficiency as one of the 2020 climate and energy goals. It is on the right path to keep its promise of lowering energy demand by %20. It remains also a pillar of 2030 energy policy, with an adjusted target of %32.5 drop in energy consumption.
Energy efficiency policy in Poland is developed in accordance with all above mentioned considerations. My government introduced a national programme, with the budget over EUR 25 billion, aimed, inter alia, at thermal retrofitting of buildings. It will contribute both to energy transition and public health policy goals.
With activities in all other sectors, it should help in achieving a declared goal of %23 improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.
How to achieve this goal? We need to apply a horizontal approach, by including energy efficiency targets in all sectors of energy consumption. In recent years industrial sectors improved their energy efficiency, emission standards contributed to lower fuel consumption in cars and energy labelling improved public awareness of energy consumption of household appliances. Although energy efficiency seems to be a technical term for engineers or economists, it depends on the decisions made every day by all of us – both consumers and producers. It is the instrument working in the spirit of Paris Agreement – everybody can contribute his or hers small, but important part of the common effort.
Even though investments in energy efficiency bring economic gains in the long term, they may require additional capital expenditures upfront, outbalanced later by much lower operational expenditures. If no sufficient financial resources are available, they will not come to life.
This “from cradle to grave” approach has to be taken into account in decision-making process. Both national budgets and international financial institutions need to provide financial resources for investments in energy efficiency, as they can contribute in timely, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly manner to the goals of Paris Agreement.
By Michał Kurtyka – President of UN Conference of Parties COP24 – Secretary of State in Poland’s Ministry of Energy and Environment.