IEA: Pandemic Slows Energy Efficiency Race

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By Tsvetana Paraskova

Energy efficiency is expected to record this year its weakest progress in a decade, creating additional challenges to the world achieving international climate goals, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a new report on Thursday.

Plunging investments and the economic crisis have markedly slowed the progress in energy efficiency this year, to half the rate of improvement seen in the previous two years, the IEA said in its Energy Efficiency 2020 report.

Global primary energy intensity, a key indicator of how efficiently the world’s economic activity uses energy, is expected to improve by less than 1 percent in 2020, the weakest rate since 2010, according to the report. That rate is well below the one needed to successfully address climate change and reduce air pollution, the IEA said.

According to the agency’s projections, energy efficiency is expected to deliver more than 40 percent of the reduction in energy-related greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 years in the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario.

Lower investments in energy-efficient buildings and fewer new car sales amid the economic crisis are further exacerbating the slow progress in energy efficiency this year, the Paris-based agency noted.

Globally, investment in energy efficiency is on track to decline by 9 percent this year.

The next three years will be the critical period in which the world has a chance to reverse the trend of slowing improvement in energy efficiency, the IEA said.

“For governments that are serious about boosting energy efficiency, the litmus test will be the amount of resources they devote to it in their economic recovery packages, where efficiency measures can help drive economic growth and job creation,” Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the IEA, said in a statement.

“Energy efficiency should be at the top of to-do lists for governments pursuing a sustainable recovery – it is a jobs machine, it gets economic activity going, it saves consumers money, it modernises vital infrastructure and it reduces emissions. There’s no excuse not to put far more resources behind it,” Birol added.

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