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The warning comes in a report designed to show that energy efficiency is not just about saving money and emissions but has ‘multiple benefits’. The report Capturing the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency says the potential for energy efficiency to help economic and social development is not appreciated, and it looks at what improved efficiency can do for increasing prosperity, as well as the security and environmental sustainability of energy supplies.
But it says governments are not doing enough to remove barriers to greater energy efficiency. It says such barriers are a mixture of subsidising existing fossil-based energy, encouraging new forms of energy like shale gas and oil, not charging for external costs, and a lack of finance and information.
The report’s projections up to 2035 show that around two-thirds of energy efficiency potential will remain unused unless policies change. In transport, it suggests just 38% of the economically viable investments in reducing energy consumption will be made, idling away more than 60% of energy efficiency potential in transport.
The IEA says energy efficiency should now be viewed as ‘the first fuel’ because energy savings by developed countries between 1974 and 2010 were greater than the amount of fuel consumed from any one energy source. But it says governments must review the obstacles to energy efficiency if maximum use is to be made of this ‘first fuel’.