It is becoming increasingly clear that energy efficiency needs to be central in energy policies around the world. All of the core imperatives of energy policy – reducing energy bills, decarbonisation, air pollution, energy security, and energy access – are made more attainable if led by strong energy efficiency policy. As the world transitions to clean energy,
efficiency can make the transition cheaper, faster and more beneficial across all sectors of our economies. Indeed, there is no realistic, or affordable, energy development strategy that is not led by energy efficiency. For the IEA, it is the first fuel. And yet energy efficiency is far from fulfilling its potential. Globally, two-thirds of the economic potential remains untapped. An entire 70% of the world’s energy use takes place
outside of any efficiency performance requirements. For example, two-thirds of energy consumption from buildings being built today has no codes or standards applied to it. A mere one-third of NDCs include energy efficiency related targets, despite IEA analysis that
shows it is the single largest action in the optimal pathway to a decarbonised energy system. For all these reasons, I have decided that, as part of our modernisation efforts of the IEA, there will be a strong focus on energy efficiency. Through analysis, policy guidance and
knowledge exchange among all stakeholders, the Agency will support governments around the world in implementing and understanding energy efficiency policies. We will build on the successes of our acclaimed Energy Efficiency in Emerging Economies Programme and
enhance further our collaboration with our member, accession, association and partner countries. Energy efficiency experience is transferable among countries and the IEA will facilitate that.
In the context of our new strategic focus, this report is an important step in understanding global trends in energy efficiency. It tracks the key indicators of energy intensity, energy efficiency investment and their impact. Our report finds – despite lower energy prices –
progress is being made, but not fast enough. It shows where policy has made a real difference, but also highlights that much more can be achieved. It highlights the threat of a continuation of lower energy prices to the energy efficiency agenda, but also demonstrates clearly that strong, well-designed policy, can mitigate that threat. The greatest efficiency gains have been led by policy, and the greatest untapped potentials
lie where policy is absent or inadequate. There are lessons of success from around the world, including US vehicle standards, Japan’s progressive Top-Runner programme, and China’s Top
10 000 programme. The report focuses on the progress made in China. To our knowledge, China’s energy efficiency story is told in great detail for the first time by this report. It is a story of great progress, achieving huge efficiency gains over the last ten years, but also revealing the opportunity for China to achieve much more on a path to the efficiency levels
of other countries.
I hope this report will be of great interest to energy policy makers and professionals in all sectors and in all regions. It quantifies the latest trends, tracks global progress, and examines key drivers and market issues. It provides answers to the central question: how can the
world achieve more? In this sense, it is a call to action. Energy efficiency is the one energy resource that every country possesses in abundance. The IEA is well determined that all countries fully exploit it.
Dr Fatih Birol
International Energy Agency