The US is lagging way behind in terms of energy efficiency, according to a new report from the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
The UK comes in first, followed closely by Germany, Italy, and Japan. But the US is ninth on the list, trailing the EU as a whole, Australia and even China, having made 'limited or little progress toward greater efficiency at the national level,' the report concludes.
"The UK and the leading economies of Europe are now well ahead of the United States when it comes to energy efficiency. This is significant because countries that use energy more efficiently require fewer resources to achieve the same goals, thus reducing costs, preserving valuable natural resources, and creating jobs," says ACEEE executive director Steven Nadel.
"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. For example, the United States scored relatively high in buildings, but was at the bottom of the list in transportation."
The rankings are modeled on ACEEE’s existing energy efficiency ranking of US states. They include both 'policy metrics' and 'performance metrics' to measure a country’s overall energy efficiency.
Examples of policy metrics include the presence of a national energy savings target, fuel economy standards for vehicles, and energy efficiency standards for appliances.
The performance metrics measure energy use and provide quantifiable results such as the amount of energy consumed by a country relative to its gross domestic product, average miles per gallon of on-road passenger vehicles, and energy consumed per square foot of floor space in residential buildings.
The ACEEE says its report raises a critical question: How can the United States compete in a global economy if it continues to waste money and energy that other industrialized nations save and can reinvest?
It has a number of suggestions, including the introduction of a national energy savings target, and commitments to greater efficiency in manufacturing, power plants and other facilities.
"While energy efficiency has played a major role in the economies of developed nations for decades, cost-effective energy efficiency remains a massively underutilized energy resource," says ACEEE senior researcher Sara Hayes.
"Fortunately, there is a lot countries can do to strengthen their economic competitiveness through improvements in energy efficiency."