Energy efficiency has been sitting at the core of sustainability discussions within the G20 for several years, and has emerged as a key consensus area across the G20 countries. UNEP FI’s Martin Schoenberg provides his take on what the recent G20 summit means for energy efficiency investment going forward, and the role of the G20 Energy Efficiency Investment Toolkit.

The summit, held in Hamburg at the beginning of July, adopted the G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth, one of the most comprehensive G20 agreements so far on the issue of climate change. 19 of the 20 countries agreed to join their efforts in enhancing the implementation of the Paris Agreement and achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The action plan, which is endorsed by the supporting Heads of State and Government, aims to strengthen the global response to climate change and encourage closer cooperation between G20 countries. It will enhance the implementation of the nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement (the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that all countries joining the Agreement provide), and references the long-term low emissions development strategies that the Agreement invited parties to submit by 2020. The plan encourages energy sector transformation, provides a number of actions on energy efficiency (see below) as well as renewable energy, and encourages action on energy access and adaptation to the impacts of climate change. To better align financial flows with the Paris Agreement, it provides a series of policy orientations and discusses the role of the multilateral development banks. The action plan also addresses inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

The recently published G20 Energy Efficiency Investment Toolkit has been acknowledged in the action plan. As the first G20 initiative to bring private and public finance institutions together to work on improving investment into energy efficiency, it will be key to helping achieve energy efficiency targets. UNEP FI led the production of the section on private finance which included insights and support from 122 banks globally, from institutional investors representing USD 4 trillion, and insurers who are signatories to UNEP FI’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance.

The Toolkit will enable countries to further scale up their energy efficiency investment through an integrated approach that bridges private financial institutions, policy-makers and international financial institutions and multilateral development banks. The virtues of an integrated approach have been clearly identified in the climate and energy action plan.

The action plan highlights the importance of energy efficiency in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal that addresses energy access (SDG 7), particularly the target of doubling the rate of improvement of energy productivity globally. This testifies to the crucial role of energy efficiency in providing affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all – and addressing energy access issues particularly in emerging economies.

UNEP FI will continue to work with its partners in the G20 Energy Efficiency Finance Task Group, the G20 working group tasked with increasing investment into energy efficiency measures, to ensure G20 countries have the tools to enhance energy efficiency investment.

UNEP FI worked on the toolkit with its partners CDP, the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), UNEP FI’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI), and the European Mortgage Federation – European Covered Bond Council (EMF-ECBC).


Read the Summary for Policy-Makers here.

Read the G20 Energy Efficiency Investment Toolkit here.

Read the Case Studies here.


For more information on the toolkit, read Annie Degen’s blog, which highlights the contributions from private financial institutions and public finance institutions.

To find out more about UNEP FI’s work on energy efficiency click here.