Recommendations of the Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency

In this report

Convened by the Executive Director of the IEA in response to the global slowdown of energy efficiency progress, the Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency was established in June 2019 at the IEA’s Fourth Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Dublin, Ireland. The Commission has 23 members and is composed of national leaders, current and former ministers, top business executives and global thought leaders.

With analytical support from the IEA, Global Commission members have examined how progress on energy efficiency can be rapidly accelerated through new and stronger policy action by governments across the globe. It has developed this series of actionable recommendations to support governments in achieving more ambitious action on energy efficiency.

The Global Commission's work comes at a critical moment in clean energy transitions around the world. Despite energy efficiency's tremendous potential, the world is struggling to capture its full benefits. Global energy efficiency is not improving quickly enough to offset strong energy demand and CO2 emissions growth. In light of these worrying trends, there is a growing recognition by governments and leaders across the globe that efficiency efforts need to be stepped up.

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the energy landscape and the priorities of governments around the world. The Global Commission's work has been sharply focused on this new reality. Energy efficiency represents a key tool that governments can use to respond to the severe economic, environmental, and social development consequences of the crisis.

Recommendations of the Global Commission

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

A stronger, all-of-government policy focus will enhance social and economic development, energy security and resilience, decarbonisation, and rapid job creation and economic stimulus

2. Act to unlock efficiency's job creation potential

Energy efficiency can quickly deliver job growth and can become a long-term, sustainable employment sector

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 is an essential element of efficiency action, and policies to do so will be most effective if they are part of a wide, coherent approach to driving market scale

5. Leverage digital innovation to enhance system-wide efficiency

Policymakers can take advantage of digital innovation's potential to enable smart control, better energy management, and wider energy system optimisation

6. The public sector should lead by example

Governments should lead through investment in public sector efficiency and driving innovation and higer standards throughout its reach

7. Engage all parts of society

Implementation of efficiency action can happen at all levels of society, with cities, businesses, and local communities all playing a particularly important role in its success

8. Leverage behavioural insights for more effective policy

People are at the centre of energy efficiency action, and insights from behavioural science can help design smarter policies

9. Strengthen international collaboration

International collaboration and exchange of best practice allow countries to learn from each other and to harmonise approaches and standards where appropriate

10. Raise global energy efficiency ambition

Governments should be significantly more ambitious in both the short- and long-term when setting their efficiency targets, policies and actions