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These pages and sections capture news of climate change and stories about the groundswell of climate action by governments, companies, cities, the UN and civil society around the globe. To provide feedback, email us at press@unfccc.int Photo©Naziha Mestaoui

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Following on from Wednesday’s expert meeting on renewable energy, experts gathered again on 5 June in Bonn, Germany, for a Technical Expert Meeting on energy efficiency in urban environments. Making our cities more energy efficient is a key factor in finding a lasting solution to climate change. More than 50% of the world population lives in cities, which account for 75% of the energy use and 80% of CO2 emissions.

But there is huge potential to move towards greater energy efficiency. For example, 100% conversion of lighting to LED could supply electricity to an extra 1.5 Billion households.

And while renewable energy has become a household name, energy efficiency seems to enjoy less visibility, a point that was raised during a briefing ahead of the expert meeting. Klaus Gihr, from German development bank KfW, said that one of the reasons for this lack of visibility is that it doesn’t earn political credits. He also raised the question of energy subsidies: “In countries with high energy subsidies, there is no level playing field for investors. We need to wean off energy subsidies to give a boost to energy efficiency."

Dr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum from the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted the huge public health opportunity of addressing the causes of climate change, including inefficient use of energy.

Many of the same actions that societies need to take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will also help to address some of our largest public health risks, particularly NCDs.

He also said that health is also a strong motivating argument that the general public understands. In many countries, the laws for regulating pollution are not for environmental protection, but for public health.

He cited the important economic implications. The IMF estimates that If the largest 20 economies put a tax on carbon that was consistent with the health gains from reduced air pollution, this would raise over US$1 trillion per year, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 14%.

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Maryke van Staden from ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability spoke about the importance of planning the transition to lower energy use. She highlighted the wide range of support available to local and subnational governments, such as the Global Protocol for Community-Scale GHG emissions and introduced the Transformative Action Programme, a brand new platform to tap the potential of local and subnational climate action. Inspired by the NAZCA portal, it aims to accelerate ambition and raise climate action.

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The International Energy Agency (IEA) has meanwhile brought out a publication looking at the multiple benefits of energy efficiency. These benefits include enhancing the sustainability of the energy system, supporting strategic objectives for economic and social development, and promoting environmental goals and increasing prosperity. The IEA's Mr. Brian Dean pointed out the fact that they are of particular importance for emerging economies and developing countries.

 

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Lambert Schneider, Chair of the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism, said “The key to investment in energy efficiency is policy intervention and incentives. In some cases, a carbon price can make a difference to overcome institutional barriers.”

Day 2: Energy-efficient lighting and buildings

The issue of public health and climate change addressed on day one was picked up again on Saturday, 6 June, this time with regard to energy-efficient buildings. Kurt Emil Ericksen of the Velux Group, said that all new buildings should be required by policy and regulation to be built to a high level of energy efficiency. He underlined the need to focus on the multiple benefits, including better health and performance, to aid the transition to carbon neutral buildings.

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Few actions could reduce carbon emissions as cheaply and easily as the phasing out of inefficient lighting, making it one of the most effective and economically advantageous ways to combat climate change. Harry Verhaar of Philips Lighting, spoke about UNEP's en.lighten initiative, which is helping to accelerate the transformation towards energy efficient lighting technologies.

Countries spanning Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East have joined the en.lighten partnership programme to target the phasing out of inefficient incandescent lamps by the end of 2016. A switch to efficient on-grid and off-grid lighting globally would save more than USD 140 billion and reduce CO2 emissions by 580 million tonnes every year.

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