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New research has slammed Australia’s “embarrassing” energy efficiency performance, just as a global agency has released a plan to supercharge action in that space.

One of Australia’s foremost energy analysts, Dr Hugh Saddler, has found that final energy productivity in Australia – the energy actually used by businesses and households – has improved just 1.1 per cent in three years.

The findings come on the same day as an International Energy Agency (IEA) report has highlighted the potential of energy efficiency to create jobs, lower bills and address the climate crisis.

Dr Saddler’s research emerged concurrently with national leaders, ministers, top business executives and prominent energy experts on the IEA’s Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency releasing their final report.

Luke Menzel, CEO, Energy Efficiency Council, said the IEA report demonstrated how energy efficiency could play a central role in fixing the social and economic damage of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Australia’s rate of improvement in energy productivity – just 1.1 per cent in three years – is embarrassing. That’s why the report from the Global Commission is so timely,” Mr Menzel said.

“The Commission sets out a plan for seizing this moment so that we can create thousands of jobs, lower energy bills, and slash emissions in this country.”

Mr Menzel said a major drive to improve the energy efficiency of homes and businesses could create 120,000 job years of employment in Australia, while reducing cost-of-living pressures for businesses and households.

“Action on energy efficiency would immediately help those most affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, including financially stressed households and businesses, and workers seeking new opportunities.”

Over the last month, multiple joint statements – including organisations as diverse as the Australian Council of Social Service, the Property Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia and Australian Council of Trade Unions – have called for state and federal governments to put energy efficiency at the heart of stimulus measures.

“There is near-universal support for energy efficiency as a key stimulus measure because projects can roll out rapidly, deliver a long term productivity dividend, slash emissions and are highly job intensive,” Mr Menzel said.

“The Global Commission has called on governments around the world to show leadership, upgrading their own schools, hospitals and other public to save taxpayers money and create jobs straight away.

“Global experts have given us a plan. Now we need state and federal governments to invest at a speed and scale that matches the magnitude of the economic challenge ahead of us.”

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