UK Leads, US 9th In Energy Efficiency Ranking

USA, you’re not No. 1. You’re not even No. 2. No, when it comes to energy efficiency, the United States of America is a woeful ninth in a new ranking of 12 of the world’s largest economies, who together make up 78 percent of global GDP, 63 percent of energy consumption and 62 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The United Kingdom leads the way in the estimation of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, which based its rankings on a combination of performance and policy metrics. Germany, Italy, Japan and France round out the top five, in that order.

ACEEE scorecard, energy efficienct, united states

image via ACEEE

“The U.K. and the leading economies of Europe are now well ahead of the United States when it comes to energy efficiency,” ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said in a statement.

Nadel said the U.S. actually fares pretty well in making its buildings efficient – fourth behind just China, Australia and the European Union – in part because its appliance and equipment standards are the best in the world.

But the U.S. stumbles badly when it comes to transportation, finishing dead last. Only in areas of moving freight is U.S. transportation deemed at all efficient. Meanwhile, it’s simply miserably wasteful when it comes to how much driving its citizens do. Apparently there’s something to the lore about the American love affair with the automobile.

“The United States stands out negatively in this category with an average vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per person that is more than twice that of most countries and more than 30 percent greater than the next lowest country, Canada,” the report [PDF] says.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • Barry

    The VMT is more a measure of liberty than efficiency. I’m delighted that US citizens score the highest.