Governments should take stronger action on energy efficiency, according to global IEA survey

1 December 2019

Topics, Energy Efficiency

Survey was conducted by IEA to inform the first meeting of the Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency

Governments need to take stronger policy action to reverse the worrying slowdown in global energy efficiency improvements, according to a public survey conducted by the International Energy Agency. The survey was carried out to inform the first meeting of the Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency, which takes place Wednesday.

Launched in July, the 23-member Global Commission is led by Honorary Chair Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and composed of national leaders, current and former ministers, business executives and international experts. It is tasked with producing recommendations by next summer to accelerate global progress on energy efficiency, which declined last year to its slowest rate since the start of this decade.

During their first meeting in Paris on Wednesday, commission members will examine the key factors that determine success in the design and implementation of efficiency policies – as well as in securing political and popular support for the policies. The meeting will lay the groundwork for developing the commission’s recommendations.

The IEA is providing analytical support for the commission’s work. As part of this, it conducted a global public survey on energy efficiency to which nearly 800 people from around 80 countries responded. The survey includes questions on the objective of efficiency policies, key opportunities and focus areas for the commission.

In response to a question asking why the significant potential to improve energy efficiency is not being realised, the most popular answer was that governments do not place efficiency high enough on their agendas. Only 3% of respondents pointed to a lack of readily available technologies as a factor.

	Share of responses
The upfront costs of efficiency measures are too high	13
Governments do not place efficiency high enough on their agendas	24
Key stakeholders - businesses, consumers, interest groups - do not strongly support action on efficiency	16
Efficient technologies are not readily available	3
There is a lack of skills and capacity to implement efficiency measures at the required scale	16
Energy prices are too low to motivate efficient consumer choices	13
Energy efficiency is just not interesting enough to engage people	10
Other	5
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The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is the most compelling reason to pursue greater levels of efficiency, according to most survey respondents. Many of them identified the buildings sector as having the greatest potential for immediate efficiency gains. More than 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that efficiency progress is not possible without firm targets backed by clear strategies and policies.

	Strongly agree	Agree	Neutral	Disagree	Strongly disagree
People's individual decisions are the single most important factor in advancing energy efficiency	15	27	28	23	7
It is best to automate energy using decisions through the use of digital technologies, rather than expecting people to change their behaviour	21	32	25	16	6
All facets of society must be actively engaged for energy efficiency policy to be successful	51	30	11	6	2
It is best to implement energy efficiency policies and measures at the local level (e.g. states/provinces and cities)	28	31	26	10	5
Progress on energy efficiency is not possible without the establishment of firm targets, backed by clear strategies and policies	62	25	9	3	2
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When asked what topics the Global Commission should prioritise, the top two answers from respondents were identifying ways to raise the profile of energy efficiency to put it higher on government agendas and determining key success factors in policy design and implementation. Those themes reflect the wider energy efficiency community’s expectations that the Global Commission will show how to build more support for energy efficiency among decision-makers and pinpoint the best ways to design and implement efficiency policies to effectively mobilise finance and investment.

	Share of responses
What are the key success factors in the development and implementation of energy efficiency policies and measures	19
How to increase levels of finance and investment for energy efficiency	17
How to realise the potential efficiency benefits from the greater use of digital technologies	7
How to raise awareness and improve communication about the benefits of energy efficiency	14
What actions can be taken to spur business and technology innovation	7
How to motivate people to change their behaviour towards more efficient practices	12
How to raise the profile of energy efficiency to ensure it is higher on government agendas	21
Other	2
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The views gathered by the public survey provide important insights for commission members as they begin their discussions and develop detailed policy recommendations.

Download full survey results