Global energy efficiency projects are set to slow further this year as a result of the economic impacts from the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) crisis, according to the International Energy Agency report on Thursday.
The IEA's Energy Efficiency 2020 report, which is the latest edition of the agency's annual update on efficiency trends, concludes that the pandemic is intensifying the challenge of reaching international energy and climate goals, while making stronger government action critical.
The report underlined that 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% this year, the weakest rate since 2010.
"This is well below the level of progress needed to achieve the world’s shared goals for addressing climate change, reducing air pollution and increasing access to energy. The disappointing trends are being exacerbated by a plunge in investments in energy-efficient buildings, equipment and vehicles amid the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic," the report finds.
The report said that purchases of new cars, which are more efficient than older models, have slowed, while the construction of new, more efficient homes and other buildings is also expected to decelerate.
"Overall, investment in energy efficiency worldwide is on course to fall by 9% in 2020," the report showed.
- Energy efficiency for sustainable recovery
Commenting on the report, Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA stated that together with renewables, energy efficiency is one of the mainstays of global efforts to reach energy and climate goals.
"While our recent analysis shows encouraging momentum for renewables, I’m very concerned that improvements in global energy efficiency are now at their slowest rate in a decade," he said.
He affirmed that 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 modernizes vital infrastructure and it reduces emissions. There’s no excuse not to put far more resources behind it," he added.
The IEA’s Sustainable Recovery Plan suggests that energy efficiency could create another 4 million jobs globally through enhanced public and private sector investment in buildings, transport and industry.
By Gulsen Cagatay and Nuran Erkul Kaya