Tried and tested: four decades of energy-efﬁ ciency policy
The huge potential for improving energy efﬁ ciency has long been recognised – and acted upon. In the wake of the 1970s oil crisis, most government agencies continued to project that energy demand would rise almost in lock-step with economic growth. In Japan, they decided as a matter of national security to do something about it, and ‘Japan, Incorporated’ was soon to emerge with the most energy-efﬁ cient industry sector in the world. In the US, energy efﬁ ciency ‘guru’ Amory Lovins contrasted the ofﬁ cial, nuclear-and-coal-to-the-rescue view with his ‘soft energy paths’, predicting that a gush of energy efﬁ ciency would emerge instead, initiating a long struggle over whether and how government should be involved in fostering this. 2
Europe offered a microcosm for the various approaches. Strong policies for energy efﬁ - ciency were already embedded in the Scandinavian psyche, for example strong standards on building energy efﬁ ciency to cope with severe winters. Denmark added particular efforts to develop CHP (combined heat and power), which eventually linked nearly all of its thermal power stations with district heating networks. 3 Germany and France strengthened their centralised policies to promote efﬁ ciency. The response in southern Europe was more patchy.