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Are political parties ignorant of energy efficiency?

One of the most important electoral issues this year is energy. It’s impossible to miss, given all the debate there has been, which has tended to focus on the timetable for making the energy system more sustainable by decarbonising primary energy.

However, the main topic of discussion at present is higher electricity prices and energy shortages – or rather – the effect on the Swedish electrical energy system. The so-called electricity crisis. So how do we resolve this? What do our political parties suggest? Since 21 August, daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) has reported on no fewer than 24 different proposals from political parties in Sweden. By and large, all the proposals focus on expanding electricity production through nuclear and wind power and increasing the national distribution capacity. A large number of the proposals contain suggestions on ways to reduce costs for consumers.

Is there something missing? Absolutely there is! Only a very few proposals mention the term ‘energy efficiency’. Is it too abstract? Unexplored? Is it perhaps being confused with economising and reduced standards of living? Is it somehow controversial to produce the same goods or services using 10-30 per cent less energy? The Energy Efficiency First principle is a familiar one within the EU. But this is not reflected at all in the Swedish debate.

There is probably a German saying to do with walking into a room where the lights have been left on: “…a Swede was in here last…”. When is that going to change? Amory Lovins (Rocky Mountain Institute and Stanford University) visited KTH in June.  Amory coined the term ‘negawatt’ and has long advocated that “the best watt is the negawatt”.  Let’s help our political representatives get to grips with this simple message so they can add energy efficiency to the list of solutions to our problems!

A tip for our politicians and others: Why not start by reading the new book published by KTH’s Energy Platform in collaboration with the organisation VA (Public & Science)? The book’s title is Towards the Energy of the Future – The Invisible Revolution Behind the Electrical Socket and read an interview with one of the editors. (In Swedish)

Or read Amory Lovins’ book Reinventing Fire. Available at Reinventing Fire – RMI.