July 16, 2008

A Very Rough Guide to Energy Efficiency

This weeks European edition of Fortune Magazine contains interesting articles on the "Solar Gold Rush" in the Southwestern United States and the chequered history of the Tesla electric supercar.

Even more interesting, to me at least, was the fact that included inside the see through wrapping was a copy of "The Mini Rough Guide to Energy and our Planet", sponsored by big oil company Shell. The foreword is written by Jeremy Bentham, who used to be head of hydrogen at Shell, but now bears the title of "Chief Scenarios Developer". Jeremy outlines two possible scenarios Shell use in their strategic planning. In the first, codenamed "Scramble":

Nations secure energy resources for themselves. Policymakers pay little attention to curbing energy use, until supplies run short, and greenhouse gas emissions are not seriously addressed until there are major climate shocks

The second scenario is codenamed "Blueprints", in which:

Growing local actions lead to cross-border cooperation to address the challenges of economic development, energy security, and environmental pollution.

Shell have even made a video in which Jeremy goes into more detail on these scenarios. Check it out on the Shell Dialogues website. His conclusion (in brief!)

Tackling these three hard truths TOGETHER is essential for a sustainable future. The next five years are critical.

Assuming that you're like me, and you prefer "Blueprints" to "Scramble" what can you personally do to make this scenario more likely to happen?

The Mini Rough Guide to Energy comes to the rescue. On page 75 it says:

Becoming more energy efficient – as opposed to merely producing more energy – is clearly the most cost effective single step. An increase in energy efficiency means we can get more – more development, more energy services – without needing more energy.

It just so happens that the United Nations Foundation agrees. The foundation was set up by Ted Turner, founder of CNN. Although the foundation is not actually part of the United Nations itself, the UN does help decide how the money raised is spent. Last year they produced a report entitled "Realizing the Potential of Energy Efficiency". Two of the key conclusions of this report are:

The report recommends that world governments exploit energy efficiency as the energy resource of first choice because it is the least expensive and most readily scalable energy resource option that fuels sustainable global economic growth, enhances national security, and does not further damage the climate system.

This report calls for the G8 nations to commit to double the global rate of energy efficiency improvement to 2.5 percent per year, provides a menu of proven policy options to help guide and inform national strategies, and suggests a framework for cooperation and action within the G8+5 and beyond.

As recent events at the G8 have shown Ken Livingstone seems to have hit the nail on the head, on this issue at least, when he proclaimed "If voting changed anything they'd abolish it!". Whilst we wait for our elected leaders to get around to implementing these recommendations another media mogul, sponsor of another Rough Guide, comes to our assistance with tips on how to increase your personal energy efficiency. You can download "The Rough Guide to Saving Energy" from the econnexus web site. In this case the foreword is written by James Murdoch, son of Rupert and newly anointed chairman and chief executive of News International in Europe and Asia.

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