Columnists: Hans Nilsson, Fourfact

Published on: 9 Apr 2019

The sound of silence

How else can it be described? When trustworthy, serious organisations like the IEA reports that

a) Energy efficiency is the most potent resource to handle climate change

b) Energy efficiency improvements worldwide loses ground for the 3rd year in a row

The first is hardly mentioned at all in media who pride themselves of covering energy and climate issues and the second is not even met with a shrug?

The IEA spells out in their Energy Efficiency Market Report 2018:

While global gross domestic product (GDP) could double by 2040, the EWS [Efficient World Scenario] shows the potential for efficiency alone to limit the increase in primary energy demand to levels only marginally higher than those today. This would result in a peak in energy-related greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, which would subsequently fall by 12% in 2040 compared with today”.

More production, cheaper and still less pollution! Wouldn’t that merit wartime headlines in most newspapers, more interpellations in Parliaments and maybe even demonstrations on the streets?

And when the IEA tracks the trends in energy and carbon dioxide emissions in a recent report they say that:

Although efficiency was still the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions abatement in the energy sector, 2018 marked the third consecutive year in which the improvement rate for energy efficiency slowed.”

We are slowing down on the resource that we need the most! Again this is remarkable and should force us to join Greta Thunberg and all the activist students in protest rather than being met with the almost ear shattering silence. What is wrong with us?

We could of course join the blame game and note that traditional media very often lacks the resources to observe the reports and analyse what it means. We could blame these media and politicians for their focus on energy supply which is after all more tangible. We could even blame the source and messenger (IEA) for not highlighting these issues enough.

But we may have to take some of the blame ourselves! Why do we miss to spread these analytical results and interpret them for bigger audiences? Why do we miss developing the instruments needed to make energy efficiency understandable and attractive? Why don’t we speak up better?

Silence is not the solution.


Other columns by Hans Nilsson