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Canada lags global leaders in energy efficiency

Small-scale projects that produce energy and use it more efficiently at the community level are critical to securing Canada's energy future, experts say.

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Canada ranks 9th out of 16 of the world's major economies for the efficient use of energy, according to a new report released Thursday.

While we beat out Australia, India and the United States for energy efficiency, we are far behind the leaders – Germany and Italy.

The international energy efficiency scorecard, calculated by the Washington-based American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, says Canada does well when it comes to setting energy-savings targets and creating incentives for efficiency improvements, but we fall down on the use of public transit and in energy efficiency among industries.

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The rankings look at both government policy measures – such as the existence of energy savings targets or fuel economy standards – and actual measurements such as the average fuel consumption of passenger vehicles and average energy consumption in residential buildings.

Not surprisingly, Canada is one of the worst performers when it comes to vehicle miles travelled per person. Only Australia and the United States are worse. And national investment in rail transit is low in Canada compared to most countries.

But Canada ranks well for setting efficiency standards for appliances and equipment, and for the "EnerGuide" labelling program. Overall, Canada received 50 out of a possible 100 points.

Germany, which came out on top with 65 points, has a comprehensive energy strategy and hard targets for the reduction of energy consumption. "Germany is a prime example of a nation that has made energy efficiency a top priority," said ACEEE executive director Steven Nadel.

Italy's strong performance is driven by its stringent fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles, and its incentives for building retrofits.

Mexico comes dead last among the 16 countries, behind other laggards Brazil and Russia. It has no national mandatory energy savings goals and no incentives for manufacturers to improve efficiency.

Two years ago, the last time the ACEEE calculated its scorecard, Canada finished eleventh of the 12 economies it measured, just ahead of Russia. Britain and Germany led the list. Since then the agency has refined its measurements and added India, Mexico, South Korea, and Spain to its survey.

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The rankings:

1. Germany (65 points out of 100)

2. Italy (64)

3. European Union (63)

4. China (61)

5. France (61)

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6. Japan (57)

7. United Kingdom (57)

8. Spain (54)

9. Canada (50)

10. Australia (49)

11. India (45)

12. South Korea (44)

13. United States (42)

14. Russia (35)

15. Brazil (30)

16. Mexico (29)

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About the Author
Reporter, Report on Business

Richard Blackwell has reported on Canadian business for more than three decades. At the Financial Post and the Globe and Mail he has covered technology, transportation, investing, banking, securities and media, among many other subjects. Currently, his focus is on green technology and the economy. More

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