European Union

EU, US push toward energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is going global.

It's not just a bunch of true believers pounding fists on tables.

Last week in Lisbon, Portugal, the year-old U.S.-EU Energy Council brought up energy efficiency and clean energy technologies in a joint statement from the council and U.S. State Department, saying the concept has "effects across our foreign, economic and development policies."

The council ordered its Energy Security Working Group to pursue an aggressive list of clean energy issues. Officials said they "highlighted the importance of enhancing cooperation on energy efficiency in the buildings sector and products," recognizing "the mutual benefit of working towards common standards, convergent regulatory frameworks and effective incentives for the deployment of emerging clean energy technologies."

Also targeted were electric vehicles, energy storage, cellulosic and algal ethanol, and carbon capture and storage. The council praised the working group for its research into hydrogen and fuel cells, solar power and even nuclear fusion.

The emerging international consensus embracing the value of energy efficiency follows that of California. The state has successfully championed energy efficiency as a way to diminish the need for new energy generation since the anti-nuclear movement in the 1970s. Consumers, the federal government and a bunch of movers and shakers in corporate America have jumped aboard relatively recently.

By working together on energy, officials involved with the council say the U.S. and Europe can increase "mutual security and prosperity; underpinning stable, reliable and transparent global energy markets; and coordinating our regulatory regimes and research programs to speed the deployment of tomorrow’s clean and efficient energy technologies."

The bottom line? Economic growth and job creation. At least that's the line from the U.S. State Department. Climate change goals also factor in.

The U.S.-EU Energy Council brought together Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Daniel Poneman, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy; EU High Representative Catherine Ashton; EU Energy Minister Freya Van den Bossche; and EU Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger.

Heavy hitters. But this is politics, and the actual effect of the effort may be minimal at first. This is especially true in this case. While energy efficiency received top billing, there was also quite a bit of time given to Ukraine's natural gas transmission and Nigeria's oil fields.

Still, my impression is that the more that energy efficiency is publicized, embraced and instituted, the more the common Joe and Josephine will give it a try. It's like my recent post about LED bulbs being hawked at hardware stores across the nation. They're a little expensive to install but worth it in the long run.

Times are changing.

Photo: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton & EU Foreign Affairs & Security Policy High Rep./European Commission VP Catherine Ashton