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Global energy efficiency progress could be far faster – IEA

Though global progress on energy efficiency is recovering, a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA): Energy Efficiency 2021, suggests need for rapid expansion of the technologies and solutions that drive more efficient use of energy across global economies, in order to keep global climate pledges within reach.

The IEA’s annual report, published shortly after the COP26 climate change conference, notes that total annual investment in energy efficiency worldwide needs to triple by 2030 to be consistent with a path towards net zero emissions by 2050, as set out in the IEA’s 
Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050.

As the latest report on the energy efficiency market since a raft of new spending commitments aimed at supporting economic recovery since the COVID-19 pandemic were announced by governments during 2021, the lack of pace does not come as a surprise.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, says he sees ‘energy efficiency to be the first fuel – as it still represents the cleanest, and in most cases, the cheapest way to meet our energy needs.’ By this approach he suggests that a step change in energy efficiency will give us a fighting chance of staving off the worst effects of climate change while creating millions of decent jobs and driving down energy bills.

The report notes that governments worldwide have scaled-up employment-intensive efficiency programmes. It also highlights that substantial potential for job creation remains untapped. And maintains that investments in the energy efficiency of buildings is set to stimulate a 20% rise in construction jobs this year compared with pre-pandemic levels.

However, even with this record level of spending, the report estimates that more than 4mn jobs could be created by 2030 by further spending on efficient buildings, appliances and other measures.

There is clear recognition that 2020 marked the worst year in a decade for economic activity away from services and towards industry, due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the rate of improvement in global energy intensity – which is a key indicator of how efficiently the world’s economic activity uses energy – is expected to recover in 2021 to 1.9%. This is in line with the average annual rate of improvement over the past 10 years but is well below the 4% needed between 2020 and 2030 in the IEA’s pathway to net zero emissions by 2050.

The report suggests that as energy efficiency offers some of the fastest and most cost-effective actions to reduce CO2 emissions, front-loading efficiency measures into net zero strategies will be crucial for closing the gap between climate ambitions and current trends. Over 40 energy efficiency milestones are highlighted in the IEA Roadmap to Net Zero that can enhance efficiency and get emissions reduction on track.

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Region: Worldwide

Organisation: International Energy Agency

Subjects: Energy efficiency

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