Sustainable Development Goal 7

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

The International Energy Agency is at the forefront of global efforts to assess and analyse persistent energy access deficit, providing annual country-by-country data on access to electricity and clean cooking (SDG 7.1) and the main data source for tracking official progress towards SDG targets on renewables (SDG 7.2) and energy efficiency (SDG 7.3).


Energy efficiency


Global energy intensity improvements looked promising in the early part of this decade, but average rates of improvement still lie below the initial SDG7 target to achieve average annual energy intensity improvements of 2.6%. The current and planned policies, modelled in the New Policies Scenario, are projected to achieve an energy intensity improvement of annual average rate of 2.4% to 2030. This represents an improvement of nearly 50% on recent progress, but remains below the newly set goal of 2.7% required to reach SDG 7.3.

Global energy intensity, defined as the ratio of primary energy supply to GDP, is the indicator used to track progress on global energy efficiency. The original target was an annual reduction of 2.6% until 2030. However the world has fallen short of this goal since it was announced, such that the required rate of intensity improvement has risen to 2.7%. This trend is expected to continue, because early indications are that the rate of improvement in energy intensity slowed to around 1.7% in 2017.

Mandatory policies, such as codes and standards, including minimum energy performance standards, fuel-economy standards, building energy codes and industry targets, continue to form the basis of energy efficiency policy. However, these measures are being complemented by fiscal and financial incentives, such as tax relief on building renovations and electric vehicle purchases, public financing and the use of market-based instruments. Technological change and advances in energy management in the industrial and buildings sectors are also delivering efficiency improvements.

Energy intensity measured in terms of primary energy and GDP, 2016

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Outlook for efficiency


In the New Policies Scenario while intensity improvements accelerate in most regions, they accelerate the fastest in developing economies. In Developing Asia, for example, energy intensity improves at an annual rate of 3.3%.

A number of significant energy efficiency policies, which have recently been agreed or are currently under development, are expected to boost reductions in energy intensity. These include new policy packages announced by the European Union and China, and plans to strengthen mandatory energy performance regulations in various regions. As a result, overall global energy intensity in the New Policies Scenario is expected to decrease by 2.4% per year on average between 2017 and 2030. This is a faster rate than has been achieved in recent years, but falls short of the 2.7% annual improvement required to realise SDG 7.3. 

Energy intensity measured in terms of primary energy and GDP, 2000-2030

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