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US non-profit body says UK is most energy efficient country

17 July 2012

The United Kingdom comes first in a new energy efficiency ranking of the world's major economies, followed closely by Germany, Japan and Italy, according to the first-ever International Energy Efficiency Scorecard published by the non-profit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The report finds that in the past decade the United States has made “limited or little progress toward greater efficiency at the national level,” putting it in 9th place out of 12 economies around the globe. 

The rankings are modeled on ACEEE's approach to energy efficiency ranking of US states, and include twelve of the world's largest economies: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. These 12 economies represent more than 78 percent of global gross domestic product, 63 percent of global energy consumption, and 62 percent of the global carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions. 

On a scale of 100 possible points in 27 categories, the nations were ranked by ACEEE as follows: (1) the United Kingdom; (2) Germany; (3) Italy; (4) Japan; (5) France; (6) the European Union, Australia, and China (3-way tie); (9) the U.S.; (10) Brazil; (11) Canada; and (12) Russia.

ACEEE divided the 27 metrics across four groupings: those that track cross-cutting aspects of energy use at the national level, as well as the three sectors primarily responsible for energy consumption in an economically developed country: buildings, industry, and transportation. The top-scoring countries in each grouping are: Germany (national efforts); China (buildings); the United Kingdom (industry); and a tie among Italy, China, Germany, and the United Kingdom (transportation). 

“The UK and the leading economies of Europe are now well ahead of the United States when it comes to energy efficiency,” said Steven Nadel, ACEEE executive director. “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. Unfortunately, our results show that nowhere is the vast potential for improvements in energy efficiency being completely realized. 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 ACEEE ranking system looks at 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. Examples of performance metrics include 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. 


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