It is important to accelerate technological diffusion and to get consumers to pay attention to climate change issues.
A sustainable energy future cannot be understood in terms of technology alone. A strong interaction exists among energy, economy, environment, technology, geopolitics and sustainability. However, for a sustainable energy future, technological solutions are at the heart of an energy efficiency approach. Technology is the primary means to increase efficiency by increasing useful output or decreasing waste per unit input, that is, maximizing energy utilization. Other managerial measures of efficiency improvements are secondary and cannot achieve much without higher technological efficiency underneath. Energy is embedded in many aspects of human life and its efficient utilization is important from a variety of viewpoints, for example, energy—environment linkage. Energy production and use account for nearly 50 per cent of the human-caused increase in greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. Acid rain and air pollution are further side effects. It is estimated that, by using the most advanced technologies, a CO2 reduction of about 50 per cent is possible until the year 20501 and that the'(...) average equipment used in the household sector in European Union (EU) countries is 50 per cent less efficient than the best equipment currently sold'.2 For all humans valuing future lives this is a key argument.
Looking at current energy use trends and resource reserves, the main question is not about the period of depletion of coal, oil and gas stocks, but about the substitution by a combination of alternative energy sources, efficient technologies, lightweight materials and other advanced technologies. This approach requires action across all sectors of the economy, from electricity and transportation to agriculture. The successful development of these technologies requires substantial new investments in research, incentives for producers and consumers and emission reduction requirements to drive innovation. Governments at all levels need to encourage short-term action to reduce emissions while laying the groundwork for a longer-term technology revolution.
In recent years, a number of trends have accelerated the utilization of energy-efficient technologies. 'Technology push' programmes, supported by subsidies, have created niche markets for otherwise expensive renewable
1 Martinot 2000.
energy technologies in many developing countries. While the quantitative impact of these systems may appear quite small, analysts argue that the most significant achievement of the renewable energy programme is the creation of domestic capacity that could sustain renewable energy markets in the future.
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