The UK has come in first in a new energy efficiency ranking of the world’s major economies, followed closely by Germany, Japan, and Italy, according to the first ever International Energy Efficiency Scorecard published by the non-profit American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The report finds that in the last decade the US has made ‘limited or little progress toward greater efficiency at the national level,’ putting it in 9th place out of 12 economies around the globe.

The rankings are modeled on ACEEE’s approach to energy efficiency ranking of US states, and include 12 of the world’s largest economies – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK, the US, and the EU. These 12 economies represent over 78% of global gross domestic product, 63% of global energy consumption, and 62% of the global carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

On a scale of 100 possible points in 27 categories, the nations were ranked by ACEEE as follows – (1) the UK, (2) Germany, (3) Japan, (4) Italy, (5) France, (6) the EU, Australia, and China (3-way tie), (9) the US, (10) Brazil, (11) Canada, and (12) Russia.

ACEEE executive director, Steven Nadel, said, “The UK and the leading economies of Europe are now well ahead of the US when it comes to energy efficiency. This is significant because countries that use energy more efficiently require fewer resources to achieve the same goals, thus reducing costs, preserving valuable natural resources, and creating jobs.

“Unfortunately, our results show that nowhere is the vast potential for improvements in energy efficiency being completely realised. While many countries achieved notable success, none received a perfect score in any category – proving that there is much that all countries can still learn from each other. For example, the US scored relatively high in buildings, but was at the bottom of the list in transportation.”

Greg Barker, British secretary of state for climate change, said, “I welcome today’s publication of the first International Energy Efficiency Scorecard by the ACEEE. Energy efficiency sits at the heart of our policies to encourage low carbon growth, and I am particularly pleased that the UK is ranked first of the 12 economies considered by the study.

“Making our buildings and industries more energy efficient is a significant challenge, one that will take years to meet – doing so cost effectively will mean drawing on the experiences of others. This study is a fascinating collection of best practice, setting out the innovations which can accelerate economic growth, enhance energy security – and save our households and businesses money.”

Report author and ACEEE senior researcher Sara Hayes said, “While energy efficiency has played a major role in the economies of developed nations for decades, cost effective energy efficiency remains a massively underutilised energy resource. Fortunately, there is a lot countries can do to strengthen their economic competitiveness through improvements in energy efficiency.”