top of page

Exploring the Global Efforts to Address Energy Overconsumption: Are We Making Significant Progress?

Updated: Mar 4

The leading global authorities on energy reduction and consumption are the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, the International Energy Agency (IEA), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The UN works to increase access to clean energy sources, while the World Bank provides financial support for renewable energy projects. The IEA helps coordinate global energy policy and publishes comprehensive reports on global energy production, consumption, and emissions. The IPCC is an international body of scientists that assesses climate change and its impacts.

We are globally addressing the energy overconsumption and use of fossil fuels through a variety of strategies, including

  • promoting renewable energy sources,

  • increasing energy efficiency,

  • expanding public transportation networks,

  • and implementing regulations to reduce emissions.

Renewable Energy Sources

Global authorities are promoting renewable energy sources by investing in research and development, providing incentives to businesses and individuals to produce and use renewable energy, updating regulations to support the growth of renewables, and expanding international co-operation. Several organizations have led the charge, including the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the European Commission, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Additionally, many countries have adopted policies or created agencies to manage the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Increasing Energy Efficiency

The global authorities are increasing energy efficiency in various ways, such as promoting renewable energy sources, investing in smart-grid technologies and energy storage, implementing energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, and encouraging alternative transport methods. The leading international organizations governing this are the United Nations (UN), International Energy Agency (IEA), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Bank Group, and regional initiatives such as the European Union's Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy.

Regulations to Reduce Emissions

The principal regulations implementing emissions reduction are the Clean Air Act, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), and vehicle emission standards. The Clean Air Act is a federal law created in 1970 to protect the public from exposure to pollutants that cause health problems, such as asthma and lung cancer. The NAAQS regulates six common air pollutants – ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, and particulate matter. Vehicle emission standards limit the emissions allowed from new cars and trucks.

Efficiency of regulations

The effectiveness of the principal regulations that implement the reduction of emissions depends on various factors, such as the type and size of the industry, the geographic location and environment, and the cost-effectiveness of technologies.

In some cases, regulations have proven to be very effective in reducing emissions; for example, laws that control sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants have successfully reduced these emissions by over 90%. However, other regulations may not be as effective at reducing emissions – this could be due to technological limitations or lack of enforcement. Overall, it isn't easy to assess the effectiveness of these regulations without considering all these variables.

Examples of ineffective regulations due to the lack of enforcement include:

1. Vehicles continue to operate with outdated emissions systems since there are not enough resources or workforce to enforce emissions standards regularly.

2. Companies fail to meet mandated emission reduction targets since they cannot be heavily fined for non-compliance without enforcement.

3. Pollution being released into waterways and air due to lack of monitoring and enforcement, resulting in no consequences for those responsible.

4. Construction sites emit large amounts of pollutants into the environment without repercussions from authorities due to a lack of enforcement efforts.

Recent global changes to the reduction in energy and switch to renewable resources

Some of the most recent changes to the way to reduce energy and switch to renewable resources that have been implemented or addressed by global authorities include the Paris Agreement, which was signed in 2015 and called for nations to keep global temperatures from rising more than two °C above pre-industrial levels.

The agreement also calls for nations to limit global temperature increases even further to 1.5°C. In addition, many countries are now investing in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal. This is being done through subsidies, tax credits, and other incentives.

Furthermore, governments are introducing carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes that put a financial price on carbon dioxide emissions to encourage businesses to reduce their emissions.

One hundred ninety-five countries signed the Paris Agreement 2015 during the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Each country had its delegation, the signatories to the agreement. The list of signatories includes Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia and many more. They represent 98% of global emissions, and all countries agreed to take measures to limit global warming.

Further recent changes to the way to reduce energy and switch to renewable resources that have been implemented or addressed by global authorities include:

  1. Several countries have set ambitious targets for achieving 100% renewable energy by 2030 or 2050.

  2. Some cities, such as London and Amsterdam, also set ambitious goals, aiming for zero net carbon emissions by 2050.

  3. Many governments offer financial incentives for individuals and businesses to invest in renewable energy sources like solar power and wind turbines.

  4. Several countries have implemented carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems to reduce emissions from fossil fuels.

  5. Global initiatives such as the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) are helping countries transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy sources.

However, this is still not enough to address the climate crisis completely. To truly make an impact on reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and curbing overconsumption of energy, global leaders must take bolder actions, such as implementing ambitious climate targets, investing in clean technologies and infrastructure, and encouraging public participation in sustainable initiatives.