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Voluntary energy efficiency agreements in Europe and the United States: insights and best practices

Panel: 1. Policies and Programmes to drive transformation

Andre de Fontaine, Tractebel Impact, Belgium
Erwin Cornelis, Tractebel Impact, Belgium


Voluntary agreements have been utilized for decades to stimulate energy efficiency improvements in industry and other sectors of the economy. The practice has spread globally, with policymakers in different countries tailoring voluntary frameworks to meet the unique needs of their energy systems and end users. As a result, many different types of voluntary energy efficiency agreements have emerged over the years, all with varying goals, participants, design elements, and outcomes.

The authors will present insights from voluntary energy efficiency agreements in the two regions where this programmatic mechanism has been used most prominently: Europe and the United States. The history of voluntary agreements in both regions will be summarized briefly, with program design and goals analyzed and compared. Different models of voluntary agreements will be presented and assessed on the basis of their ability to elevate the importance of energy efficiency to senior management, engage industry in the development and design of the programs, clarify the business case for energy efficiency, and enhance coordination and information sharing among companies and especially within sectors. The presentation will conclude with a set of best practices pulled from each region that policymakers could draw from to improve program design in their respective locations.

Additionally, the presentation will include a brief discussion on how the European and American programs compare with similar efforts In China and Japan. The presentation will close with general conclusions on how voluntary agreements can complement other policies to drive the deep decarbonization called for through the Paris climate change agreement. A brief analysis of the application of voluntary agreements to broader sustainability goals beyond energy (such as water and waste) will also be presented.

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Download this presentation as pdf: 1-025-20_de_Fontaine_pre.pdf