(Bloomberg) -- Countries around the world need to double their progress on energy efficiency if they want to comply with global climate goals by the middle of the century, according to the International Energy Agency.
Widespread efficiency gains are key to cutting emissions, especially as global electricity demand is expected to grow, the agency said on Wednesday. For example, if the US were to switch all of its lighting to LED technology, that could save enough energy to power three million electric vehicles per year, the IEA said.
Global leaders are preparing to meet at the United Nations’ climate summit in Dubai this week, where the US and the European Union are leading a push for nations to endorse tripling renewables capacity and doubling energy savings by 2030. So far, efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions remain insufficient to limit global warming to the Paris agreement target of 1.5C versus pre-industrial levels.
Read More: Biggest Climate Talks Ever Confront Global Chaos and Record Heat
To meet that goal, annual improvements in energy efficiency need to rise from 2% in 2022 to more than 4% on average between now and the end of the decade, the IEA said. This year, global energy intensity improved by only 1.3%, in part because of a rebound in some energy-intensive sectors and booming demand for air conditioning.
Doubling energy-efficiency improvements has the potential to create millions of new jobs in areas such as home retrofitting and heat pump installations, according to the report. It could also slash global carbon dioxide emissions by over 7 billion tons, equivalent to those currently produced by the entire transport sector.
At the same time, energy efficiency measures have already become more widespread and the need for improvement globally masks strong gains at the national level, the IEA said. The European Union, for example, is set to post a 5% improvement this year, after achieving 8% in 2022.
“The world’s climate ambitions hinge on our ability to make the global energy system much more efficient,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.