Energy Efficiency and Sustainability: New Paradigms



Ashok Gadgil and Gilberto Jannuzzi called for an informal meeting of those interested in discussing "Energy Efficiency and Sustainability -- New Paradigms" on the afternoon of the first day of the ACEEE Asilomar meeting: August 26, 1996. The basis of the discussion was the note prepared by Amulya Reddy for IEI regarding the need for a coalition of young energy analysts to initiate thinking about the next major energy and development paradigm that should become the conventional paradigm of the major institutions 20 years from now.

Ashok Gadgil explained the background of this note and his previous discussions with Amulya Reddy, and then read out the full text of the IEI note to the group.


Somewhat to our surprise, about 25 persons turned up. Most of them (except the latecomers) signed up on a circulated sheet. (see list at the end of this note). Unfortunately, there were not many participants from the developing world at this ACEEE conference (perhaps owing to there being no fellowships for the conference registration costs, as was the case with a previous ACEEE summer study).

Discussion summary:

The group discussed a number of themes in relation to Amulya's challenge. The discussion lasted for about 2 hours.

At the onset, some of the attendees were of the opinion that the current "4" (this is a shorthand for the group humorously called the 'gang of 4') paradigm is not outdated in the first place. We have won a few battles, but not the war. There may be only lip service from the major institutions to the energy efficiency and development paradigm, but substantial action to back it up is still not here.

Some said that many of the issues raised by "4" paradigm still exist, and that policies and actions are still in their early stages. However, the least that one needs to do is update the Johansson et al book on Energy for Sustainable Development, and also add to it a section on economics of the technologies discussed.

However, many in the group felt that there are indeed a number of issues which are better understood at this point, that may justify a paradigm shift.

The "4" paradigm treats energy as unique. This is no longer adequate. We now need to take this approach to broader issues extending it non-energy areas, such as other resource efficiencies.

Unfortunately, the "4" paradigm has been misinterpreted in some places as a "technical fix" viewpoint. This has been the prevailing viewpoint, for example, in the analyses coming from some institutions. The "technical fix" is seen as unsustainable and unsatisfactory, since one may increase the material efficiency of a technology, but at the same time, use more of the end services (e.g., US cars have become more fuel efficient per kg of car, but in recent years their weights have increased faster than unit efficiency gains on a per-kg basis). It is important to sharpen the distinction between a sustainable development approach based on energy efficiency, and a technical fix approach supporting increasing consumerism and growth.

Twenty years ago, energy consumption growth was a sacred thing. The "4" paradigm helped dethrone that concept. Energy consumption growth is no longer a totem. However, we are still far from winning the war in terms of how we fund energy efficiency in the world.

This leads to the next area of discussion, that of quality of life. In the developed and undeveloped world alike, there is increasing evidence that our current pattern of consumption is leading to a degradation of quality of life in the form of health problems, high crime rates, and general social unrest. There seemed to be a consensus that it is important to begin to make explicit the links between energy efficiency and such issues as 1) cutting health problems related to air pollution and energy extraction and conversion, 2) the creation of jobs in the production and installation of efficient products, and 3) the improved level of service from modern technology (i.e. worker productivity, etc.). On the other hand quality of life is the common starting point driving consumption on both the industrial and developing countries, and addresses many of the non-energy issues as well (such as social equity, personal safety, health, environment, education, material efficiency, natural resource exhaustion, etc.). Thus this could prove a possible starting point for a fresh look for a new paradigm.

Many felt that in the past, energy efficiency has been pushed largely on its direct economic benefits (lower energy bills), as opposed to its environmental benefits, which are often less quantifiable. A new emphasis on second and third order benefits might go a long way towards making energy efficiency a more attractive option for developing countries, not to mention developed countries.

A closely related issue is that of how to effectively advocate energy efficiency in the developing world. The group noted that too often, energy efficiency is touted as a way to avoid costly dams or polluting power plants. However, a focus on the positive might be a better spin. For example, in countries where there is limited power to light a town, every incandescent bulb replaced with a compact fluorescent lamp, in turn, can save enough power to also power four other compact fluorescents in homes that have no electric lighting. This stress, though subtle, is important. Instead of telling an individual household to use less energy (which still has its own merits) one can provide four times as many residents with light. The positive spin is that the standard of living is being raised by adopting the technology.

Another issue that emerged was the thinking of some of the participants that social equity should to be given more attention and emphasis in the next paradigm. It is unclear if the world will be a pleasant place if the growth in inequity in consumption and skewness of wealth distribution are not addressed in some way.

Most agreed that the challenge posed by the IEI memo is a difficult one; however, there was a no sense that it was inappropriately or arrogantly posed.


Ashok Gadgil offered that he will send by e-mail a summary of the finding to any of the participants who care to give him their e-mail address, and also send the summary to Amulya Reddy. Scott McGarghan offered to help draft a part of the summary and send it to Ashok. Many members in the group remarked that the IEI position on this matter was a open minded one, offering warm hearted support to the next round of path-breaking thinking on this matter.

One possibility for the next step is to undertake e-mail discussion on this matter before a meeting.

Participant's list (partial), with affiliations

1. Blum, Petgil     Stanford U.

2. Connor, Steve    Colvin Engineering Associates

3. Dolin, Janice    US EPA

4. duPont, Peter     U. of Delaware / IIEC

5. Fraser, Marion    SRC, Canada

6. Friedmann, Rafael  UC Berkeley, ERG

7. Gadgil, Ashok      LBNL

8. Hibbard, Craig     Global Env. Options (GEO)

9. Jannuzzi, Gilberto  UNICAMP, Brazil

10. Kulakowski, Susan   UC Berkeley, ERG

11. Legro, Susan       PNL

12. Lord, Dreidre       U. of Delaware / IIEC

13. Masters, Gil        Stanford U.

14. McGarghan, Scott     US DOE

15. Nordman, Bruce       LBNL

16. Pfendt, Horst        Chevron Real Estate Management

17. Rosenfeld, Art       US DOE / LBNL

18. Sylvan, Stephan      US EPA

19. Tran, Sinh	          Seattle City Lights

20. Young, Rahul         Stanford U.


Ashok Gadgil, MS 90-3058, LBNL, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA Phone +(1) 510-486-4651, Fax: +(1) 510-486-6658 preferred respose e-mail:


Dear ENews readers,

Last year, Prof. Amulya Reddy (founder and President of International Energy Initiative) wrote a memo to the Board of Directors of IEI which is reproduced below with his permission.

In response to this memo, Gilberto Jannuzzi and I organized an informal session at the 1996 summer-meeting of American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in Asilomar, CA. We invited anyone interested in the topic of "a new energy paradigm" to this meeting. At the meeting, we first discussed the memo below, and then had an open discussion. The meeting was surprisingly well attended.

The memo (below) and a summary of the meeting at ACEEE are being posted on ENews with the hope (and expectation) that there will be more discussion on ENews on this important topic among ENews readers -- both those who attended and those who couldn't attend the ACEEE meeting.

The summary of the meeting at the ACEEE summer study will follow this posting.

with best wishes,

-- Ashok Gadgil

Dr. Ashok Gadgil, Mailstop 90-3058
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA
Phone: +(1)(510) 486-4651 Fax: +(1)(510) 486-6658
preferred reply e-mail:

Memo from Prof. Amulya Reddy to the Board of IEI


"Energy for a Sustainable World" was written in the early 1980s by Jose Goldemberg, Thomas Johansson, Amulya Reddy and Robert Williams (joking referred to as the "Gang of Four"). The book contributed to the formulation of a new "energy paradigm" based amongst other things on energy services (as distinct from energy consumption), renewables, efficiency improvements (particularly in end-uses), and technological "leapfrogging" in developing countries. All this is now considered conventional wisdom. And the more recent concerns about global warming and greenhouse gases have only strengthened the conclusions of the work of Goldemberg, Johansson, Reddy and Williams.

Perhaps a good measure of the influence of the work of Goldemberg, Johansson, Reddy and Williams is that their vision was incorporated in the influential "Brundtland Report" which lead to UNCED 92 (The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) in Rio de Janeiro. Their thinking has also become the basis of mainstream institutions such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, etc.

The Goldemberg, Johansson, Reddy and Williams team displayed several unique features:

* each one of the four had an established track record in energy analysis before they started collaborating,

* they had established careers and did not look to the collaboration as a career path,

* notwithstanding the collaboration, they continued to work in their national institutions, and therefore their collaboration did not need an organizational or institutional umbrella,

* they were committed to need-oriented self-reliant environmentally sound development, and were therefore intensely concerned about equity, empowerment and the environment,

* they brought to their work a scientific/technological background of competence, and they shared a vision of energy as an instrument of development and global progress of technologies a crucial mechanism for energy to play this role.

Since then a new generation of energy analysts has emerged both in the industrialized and developing countries. Many of these analysts were particularly stimulated by the work of IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) which facilitated attendance at international meetings and promoted work on concerns related to the "greenhouse effect". Unfortunately, these activities have not led to significant collaborative work between northern and southern energy analysts with an integration of their disparate perceptions. This is one of the reasons that some governments tend to view IPCC Reports as representing primarily the views and interests of the industrialized countries.

The challenge therefore is for a new coalition of young energy analysts. This coalition must collaborate in replacing the work of Goldemberg, Johansson, Reddy and Williams. It must also ensure a balanced integration of the perceptions of the north and south along with technical competence and social consciousness.

This coalition has not arisen spontaneously. Hence, it is opportune and appropriate that an effort be made to initiate such a coalition of northern and southern analysts who have a commitment to basic-needs-oriented, self-reliant and environmentally sound development. The collaboration thus induced should clarify, enlarge, extend or reformulate the "new energy paradigm" and generate new analysis to substantiate it.

To launch this effort, IEI plans to organize a workshop next fall that will hopefully produce an enriched version of the new energy paradigm and induce at least some of the participants to collaborate in its elaboration. In particular, the workshop envisages two specific outputs:

(1) a detailed statement of the new energy paradigm, (2) suggestions and volunteers for work that would lead to elaboration of the new energy paradigm.

Depending on the quality of these outputs IEI will consider their publication in a special issue of its journal ENERGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT .

IEI plans to issue invitations to energy analysts who

* are interested in this process

* are young,

* have an established track record in energy analysis,

* have established careers and do not look to the collaboration as a career path,

* will continue to work in their national institutions, and therefore do not need no organizational or institutional umbrella,

* are committed to basic-needs-oriented self-reliant environmentally sound development, and are therefore intensely concerned about equity, empowerment and the environment, and

* view energy as an instrument of development and global progress and technology as a crucial mechanism for energy to play this role, and

* are technically competent/aware.

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