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How Brazil’s energy efficiency programme aids low-income households

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Picture: Vadim Nefedov/Dreamstime
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Picture: Vadim Nefedov/Dreamstime

Brazil’s national energy efficiency programme shows how efforts to reduce electricity demand can be a financial win for low-income households.

Why it matters: To limit global warming to relatively safe levels, the world must scale up its clean energy investments while also doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements from 2% to 4% every year until 2030, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) calculations.

At the same time, much more needs to be done to tackle poverty.

Lessons from the Global South: In a recent report, the IEA says Brazil’s innovative approach to energy efficiency is also yielding meaningful benefits for low-income communities.

Under the programme, utilities must dedicate a portion of their revenues to improving end-use energy efficiency — largely by helping businesses and consumers to switch to less power-hungry appliances.

Roughly half of the investments made to date have been focused on low-income households, says the IEA.

Participating households generally reduce their energy consumption by 30kWh, or 15%, per month. That lowers their electricity bills and overall monthly expenditure.

“Some projects have been implemented using innovative approaches, such as partnering with NGOs and local residents in low-income communities to enable access to homes to put in place energy efficiency measures, demonstrating the value of partnerships to deliver results,” the IEA says.

The programme ensures low-income households also benefit from continuous improvements in the efficiency of new appliances, which are driven in part by minimum energy performance standards and labelling programmes.

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