Energy Efficiency Policy Toolkit 2023: From Sønderborg to Versailles


Energy efficiency is central to improving the lives of all people by providing affordable and reliable energy access, supporting economic growth and resilience, enhancing security of supply and accelerating clean energy transitions. A strong, early focus on energy efficiency is essential for delivering a net zero energy system by 2050.

To continue its support for stronger action on efficiency, the IEA has developed and updated its policy toolkit for governments on the occasion of the 8th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency, in Versailles, co-hosted by the IEA Executive Director, Dr. Fatih Birol, and French Minister for Energy Transition, Her Excellency Agnès Pannier-Runacher. The toolkit was first launched at the IEA’s 7th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Sønderborg. It provides a practical approach to accelerate action on energy efficiency by guiding governments in the design of effective policy measures, the support of policy decisions and the delivery of policy actions.

The toolkit comprises two parts: The first is ten strategic principles, based on the recommendations of the Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency, that bring together key learnings from global experience on how to maximise the impact of all energy efficiency polices and programmes. The second is a set of sectoral policy packages that highlight key policies available to governments, and how they can be integrated into an effective coherent suite of policies and actions to deliver faster and stronger efficiency gains. The 2023 policy toolkit includes two new policy packages on clean cooking and finance as well as updates to the existing packages.

The policy packages present a practical approach to policy design and implementation built on three essential elements: Regulation, information and incentives. They highlight how to most effectively combine different measures into a strategic approach. 

Implementing Energy Efficiency via Strategic Principles and an effective coordinated Policy Packages Toolkit

Ten Strategic Principles

Based on IEA analysis of best practices and the work of the Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency1 the following ten strategic principles can help guide policy makers to enhance and expand their energy efficiency policies and programmes, and to quickly accelerate energy efficiency gains through new and stronger policy actions.

1. Prioritise cross-cutting energy efficiency action for its economic, social and environmental benefits

An all-of-government approach, prioritising cross cutting action, will maximise energy efficiency gains throughout all sectors of society, enhance social and economic development, energy security and resilience, and accelerate decarbonisation of the energy sector.

2. Act to unlock efficiency's job creation potential

Energy efficiency can quickly deliver job growth and can continue to be a long-term, sustainable employment sector. Capacity building and skills development are essential for effective policy implementation.

3. Create greater demand for energy efficiency solutions

Efficiency action will be most rapidly scaled up through a focus on increasing demand for efficient products and services and enabling greater levels of market activity.

4. Focus on finance in the wider context of scaling up action

Mobilising finance and creating market conditions to attract and increase private sector investment is an essential element of efficiency action. Policies aiming to do so will be most effective if they are part of a broad coherent approach to driving market scale, combining measures to increase demand with actions to remove investment barriers.

5. Leverage digital innovation to enhance system-wide efficiency

Policymakers can take advantage of the potential of digital innovation to enable smart control, better energy management and wider energy system optimisation. Policies can enable and incentivise new solutions while also protecting consumers and system security.

6. The public sector should lead by example

Government investment to drive innovation and higher standards in the public sector will build experience, markets, knowledge and confidence in energy efficiency solutions.

7. Engage all parts of society

Implementation of energy efficiency action needs to happen at all levels of society, with cities, businesses, and local communities all playing an important role in its success.

8. Leverage behavioural insights for more effective policy

People are at the centre of energy efficiency action, benefitting from greater access, lower costs and more comfortable, healthier environments. Consumer behaviour plays an important role and insights from behavioural science can help design smarter, more effective policies.

9. Strengthen international collaboration

International collaboration and exchange of best practice allow countries to learn from each other and harmonise approaches and standards where appropriate. This can speed up implementation of energy efficiency policies and transformation of markets.

10. Raise global energy efficiency ambition

Benefits from energy efficiency policies are greatest when the ambition is high, capturing the significant untapped potential to deliver economic, energy and environmental benefits.

  1. The Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency was established in June 2019 by the Executive Director of the IEA and was chaired by the Prime Minister of Ireland, Mr Leo Varadkar. The Commission’s 23 members included national leaders, energy ministers, top business executives and global thought leaders, who worked together to identify global best practice and agree ten key strategic recommendations, which were published at the IEA’s 5th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in 2020.