U.S. ranks low in energy efficiency

July 13, 2012 at 11:33 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 13 (UPI) -- The United States lags in ninth place out of 12 of the world's major economies in overall energy efficiency, a survey indicates.

The survey by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranked countries on a 100-point scale, using 27 metrics grouped into four major categories: national efforts, buildings, industry and transportation.

Together the economies represent 63 percent of global energy consumption and 62 percent of the global carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions.

In the last decade, the United States has made "limited or little progress toward greater efficiency," the ACEEE report says.

The United Kingdom, coming in first place, received 67 points. The United States, ranked ninth, scored only 47 points -- nine points behind China, which tied in sixth place with the European Union and Australia.

Germany ranked second after the United Kingdom, followed by Italy, Japan and France.

"The U.K. and the leading economies of Europe are now well ahead of the United States when it comes to energy efficiency," ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said at a Washington news conference Thursday.

Countries that use energy more efficiently, he said, require fewer resources to achieve the same goals, thus reducing costs, preserving natural resources and creating jobs.

"Unfortunately, our results show that nowhere is the vast potential for improvements in energy efficiency being completely realized," Nadel said.

The top scorers for each grouping are: Germany for national efforts; China for buildings, the United Kingdom for industry and a tie among Italy, China, Germany and the United Kingdom for transportation.

"While many countries achieved notable success, none received a perfect score in any category -- proving that there is much that all countries can still learn from each other," Nadel said.

In transportation, for example, of a possible 23 points, the United States scored only five points. By contrast, China, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom each scored 14 points. That section of the survey measured factors such as fuel economy, miles traveled per capita and public transit usage.

Noting that most countries analyzed in the survey have a national energy savings target, the ACEEE recommends Congress pass such a target "to complement existing state policies and raise the bar for all states."

Other energy efficiency measures ACEEE recommends for the nation include modernizing electric grid infrastructure; retiring old and inefficient power plants and for new plants to be highly efficient; increased national funding for public transportation; and higher standards for fuel economy.

"It means energy efficiency has got to be the front and center of our policies," Robert Ichord, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's Bureau of Energy Resources, said at the news conference.

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