There is no room for complacency

The recent IEA energy efficiency report also leads Joshua S Hill to reflect in an article on the CleanTechnica website on one of the report’s key messages. What is your understanding from the report?


Governments Must Remain Focused Or Risk Losing Energy Efficiency Gains

The International Energy Agency has warned governments that they must maintain their focus on implementing new energy efficiency policies or risk slowing down the recent energy efficiency gains that have been made worldwide.

Global energy intensity — which is the measurement used to describe energy used per unit of GDP (gross domestic product) — fell by 1.8% in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Energy Efficiency 2017 report, published last week. In fact, intensity has fallen at an average rate of 2.1% annually — not bad, considering the average rate of 1.3% between 1970 and 2010.

An average of 2.1% annually obviously allows for tremendous geographical variation, but the IEA report points out that China once again had a significant impact on global trends. Improvements in energy intensity are subsequently avoiding tremendous amounts of energy usage which in turn are generating financial savings for consumers and similarly minimising greenhouse gas emissions level increases. Specifically, GDP produced per unit of energy consumed is skyrocketing — proving time and again that the correlation between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions is separating.

Energy efficiency has had a tremendous impact on world energy usage, and in 2016 we would have used 12% more energy had it not been for numerous energy efficiency improvements made since 2000 — that would have been equivalent to adding another European Union to the global energy market.

However, the IEA is quick to remind governments that “there is no room for complacency” and that “Policy performance is mixed and new policy implementation slowed significantly in 2016.” Further, “The current level of efficiency gains will erode quickly if the pace of policy delivery does not accelerate,” the authors warn. Energy efficiency codes and standards grew to encompass approximately 32% of global energy use in 2016 — but nearly all of this increase came from existing policies, and nevertheless leaves over two-thirds of global energy use uncovered.

“There was a noticeable slowdown in the implementation of new policies in 2016, and this trend appears to be continuing in 2017,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “Countries should focus on attacking the more than 68% of global energy use that is not covered by efficiency codes or standards. A key IEA mandate is to help countries pursue this very important goal by sharing best practices and learning from each other.”

Global energy efficiency coverage only increased by 1.4% in 2016 — and only 1.5% of that increase was due to new policies being implemented, an historical low increase with the only new additions found in air conditioning standards in Indonesia and refrigerator and freezer standards in China.

The strength of mandatory efficiency policies similarly saw a minimal increase, while overall policy progress in 2016 was the slowest it has been since 2009. “The IEA Efficiency Policy Progress Index (EPPI), which measures changes in the coverage and strength of mandatory energy efficiency policies since 2000, increased by half a point to 6.3 globally in 2016, compared with average increases of around 0.75 since 2010,” the authors of the report noted. The slowdown in the EPPI was largely due to fewer new policies coming into force, a trend that continued in the first half of 2017.”


2 thoughts on “There is no room for complacency

  1. The penultimate paragraph grossly understates the improvements made in product efficiency standards throughout the developed world during 2016 – for instance, there were six new product categories incorporated within the EU eco- design programme, all of which are leading to annual reductions in energy consumption. Is the error that of the article’s author, or is it to be found in the original IEA report about which he is writing?

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