From: Reuters
Published January 22, 2008 07:18 AM

U.S. says world must improve energy efficiency

By Simon Webb

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The world's largest energy consumer the United States on Monday called for a global push for increased energy efficiency to help meet rising demand and alleviate the impact of high prices on economic growth.

The U.S. consumes about 21 million barrels per day of oil, around a quarter of the world's supply. Record oil prices have cooled U.S. appetite for gas guzzling cars and, along with increasing environmental concerns, leant weight to calls for more sparing use of energy.

The country last month passed a bill requiring increased fuel efficiency in vehicles for the first time in over 30 years.

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"We must promote increased energy efficiency," U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said in a speech to a green energy conference. "The biggest source of immediately available 'new' energy is the energy that we waste every day."

Energy efficiency measures "will not only take some pressure off demand, but also improve the health of our shared environment," he said.

The challenge of meeting growing energy demand was global and required huge investment in both conventional and alternative energy sources in the developed and developing world alike, he said. New technology needed to be rapidly deployed to diversify the global energy supplies.

"The world needs safe, reliable, clean, affordable and diverse energy supplies - and in considerably greater numbers than it now has... to do that we need a global response... and, by that I mean all nations, including those that produce our world's oil supply."

Bodman earlier repeated his call for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to boost output at its February1 meeting.

To encourage investment in clean and efficient oil and gas production, Bodman called for an end to "market interventions," without specifically mentioning OPEC.

"It is time to stop doing the things that we know will not help," he said. "We know that purposeful market distortions - such as rationing supply, cutting production, or creating price floors and ceilings - do not work."

Bodman was on the third stop of a trip to the Middle East taking in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Egypt.

(Reporting by Simon Webb; editing by James Jukwey)

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