Insights Brief: Meeting climate change goals through energy efficiency

About this report

Energy efficiency is key to achieving the ambitions set out in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) announced under the Paris Agreement after COP21. Yet although most NDCs mention energy efficiency, detail on implementation is often lacking. IEA analysis indicates that current NDC targets are not in line with limiting the increase of global average temperature to well below 2°C by the end of the century. NDCs are to be revised and strengthened every five years through a process of stock-taking and ratcheting-up, providing an opportunity to drive development of new energy efficiency policies and track their implementation. What are the opportunities? Energy efficiency can be deployed quickly and is the one energy resource that all countries possess in abundance. In IEA modelling, energy efficiency makes the largest contribution to global emissions reduction and is driven by substantial efficiency gains in all end-use sectors through, for example, fuel-economy standards in the transport sector, highly efficient technologies to provide heat and steam in industry, and a wide range of actions across the buildings sector. Mandatory energy efficiency policies and regulations such as energy performance standards have already resulted in significant energy and emissions savings. Given the shortening timeframes for action, policies should now urgently target sectors and measures with the greatest potential. Many existing NDCs mention energy efficiency but countries will need to revise and strengthen NDCs by scaling up the implementation and monitoring of concrete actions.