Energy efficiency is the most immediate and cost-effective opportunity to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. According to the United Nations Foundation in Washington, a recent assessment by Project Catalyst concluded that improving energy efficiency could provide roughly one-third of available, cost-effective emissions reductions in 2020.

It is one of the few large-scale mitigation options that yields a positive economic return while providing a wide range of other social, environmental, and security benefits. Energy efficiency is attractive in all nations and especially in developing countries because it allows existing energy sources to serve a larger population and facilitates universal access to modern energy services a key requirement for poverty reduction and sustainable development. A study by the McKinsey Global Institute determined that profitable investments in energy efficiency through 2020 could cut global energy demand growth in half.

Another significant innovation could come with reforms of utility companies' regulatory regimes to reward them for efficiency improvements, as has been done in California.

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