High-level indicators

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

🕐 Last updated Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The complex nature of clean energy transitions requires monitoring a suite of indicators. Doing so can help identify key opportunities for enhanced action – that is, “levers” that can be pulled to accelerate transitions. The IEA has developed a set of key indicators that reflect the most important short-term actions that policy makers can focus on to drive long-term transitions. These indicators create an accessible and comprehensive tracking framework, and can help inform effective and well-coordinated policies.

Download an overview of the high-level indicators for each sector (PDF).

Aggregate high-level indicators

Aggregate indicators of clean energy transitions show that we are off track for meeting long-term goals.

	Not on track	More efforts needed	2018-2040 target
CO2 Emissions	1.646282342		-2.648403858
ESCI	-0.093972919		-2.806002298
Electrification		0.235960303	0.409296677
Energy Intensity		-1.691906671	-3.4
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Global fuel combustion emissions are the product of economic, technological and demographic factors. A set of indicators beyond emissions is needed to unpack the underlying drivers of change in energy supply and demand. These driving factors indicate the aggregate progress in clean energy transitions and the potential for future improvement.

Simultaneous change in all of these drivers is needed for the clean energy transition to be effective. For instance, increasing the electrification of end uses needs to go hand in hand with reductions in energy sector carbon intensity to achieve emission reductions.

High-level indicator Measure Scope
Global fuel combustion-related CO2 emissions CO2 Emissions
Energy sector carbon intensity - tCO2/Total Final Energy Consumption CO2/energy Supply
Electricity share of total final energy consumption % Supply
Primary energy intensity (TPES/GDP) Energy/$ Demand
Energy efficiency improvement rate % Demand
Investment share of low carbon in overall energy investment % Investment
Public and private investment in clean energy RD&D $ Investment

Global fuel combustion-related CO2 emissions

Global emissions need to peak soon and decline steeply after 2020, dropping by 2.6% on average annually until 2040.

	Total	Power	Transport	Industry	Buildings
2000	23.12254899	9.30496653	5.757330139	3.800879653	2.714221333
2001	23.47146496	9.5078247	5.788782784	3.827996477	2.747187674
2002	23.78282661	9.63709876	5.927863204	3.818814129	2.744303525
2003	24.82514854	10.20251083	6.061801968	3.998092898	2.834714993
2004	25.99529161	10.5681569	6.338642644	4.435029403	2.8871447
2005	26.96095127	10.92301855	6.473184126	4.851502703	2.8941626
2006	27.80654419	11.35179098	6.619485384	5.090673515	2.869437109
2007	28.86096499	11.85457995	6.82715492	5.361851789	2.870152265
2008	29.08042175	11.82992001	6.835590435	5.513647064	2.93269288
2009	28.68539567	11.65305332	6.702085503	5.482328547	2.906689888
2010	30.33130251	12.40701045	6.987265405	5.95346864	2.94018384
2011	31.16236365	12.97502735	7.091786215	6.181127731	2.866679689
2012	31.48883439	13.24820617	7.162347348	6.16998119	2.843435209
2013	32.10265377	13.48634253	7.358231685	6.201053537	2.954942257
2014	32.13838726	13.43671145	7.481625205	6.228618591	2.907924198
2015	32.08090364	13.25741648	7.699035601	6.150333381	2.91973441
2016	32.05308108	13.24730734	7.85123826	6.003762859	2.945481672
2017	32.5807653	13.58735764			
2020	32.24612668	12.88853129	8.096102647	6.194035911	2.94750274
2025	29.53513792	10.65645934	7.931631026	6.109310592	2.767166861
2030	25.4815813	7.838544571	7.325545654	5.798619773	2.59346829
2035	20.98192906	5.127261698	6.373226853	5.368779096	2.367205417
2040	17.64690866	3.292261607	5.562692461	4.987285508	2.201672592
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Global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.6% in 2017 after three flat years, reaching a historic high of 32.6 gigatonnes (Gt). The increase in carbon emissions in 2017 was the result of weaker energy efficiency efforts and robust global economic growth of 3.7% fuelling the increase in energy demand. With current and planned policies, including the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, energy-related CO2 emissions are set to gradually increase to 34.6 Gt by 2030 and will continue rising thereafter.

In order to reach long-term climate mitigation targets, emissions need to peak around 2020 and decline steeply after that, requiring a rapid reversal of last year’s rebound. The IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) shows that annual CO2 emissions will need to be 46% below the current levels by 2040 in order to be on track with the Paris Agreement.


Energy sector carbon intensity

As of 2017, the world’s energy supply was almost exactly as carbon intensive as in 2000. Energy sector carbon intensity needs to decline by 47% by 2040 from current levels.

	ESCI
2000	3.286270549
2001	3.317545328
2002	3.308043268
2003	3.350260149
2004	3.356051549
2005	3.382367571
2006	3.402190445
2007	3.43843671
2008	3.431862933
2009	3.419917516
2010	3.438960234
2011	3.480863625
2012	3.478571991
2013	3.482537007
2014	3.450828128
2015	3.412827666
2016	3.363330527
2017	3.360169907
2020	3.202303891
2025	2.916691888
2030	2.546392365
2035	2.109485541
2040	1.772192653
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The energy sector carbon intensity indicator (ESCI) tracks the amount of carbon emissions from fuel combustion (expressed in tonnes of carbon dioxide) per unit of total final consumption (tonnes of oil equivalent).

It shows the net impact of policy changes, shifts in investment and technology developments on CO2 emissions in the energy sector and gives a measure of how “clean” the global energy supply is from a climate perspective.

Unfortunately, this indicator has changed very little over the last 30 years. While the indicator has been on a declining trajectory since a peak in 2013, showing tentative signs that the global energy supply has been getting a little cleaner in recent years, but the 2017 emissions increase put a halt to this trend. To meet the SDS target, carbon intensity needs to decline by 24% to 2030 and by 47% to 2040.


Share of electricity in total final energy consumption

The share of electricity in final energy consumption would have to reach 28% in 2040 to meet the SDS targets.

	Electricity share
2000	15.48448651
2001	15.62736543
2002	15.91934398
2003	16.07191326
2004	16.06413277
2005	16.32153433
2006	16.61638462
2007	16.97009826
2008	17.09824051
2009	17.17581826
2010	17.45153155
2011	17.747517
2012	17.9790091
2013	18.21575817
2014	18.38172801
2015	18.48696531
2016	18.80256705
2017	19.03852736
2020	19.48670399
2025	20.90469203
2030	23.11783419
2035	25.63565523
2040	28.13516925
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The electrification of end-use sectors is an important option for decarbonizing the energy sector, when combined with increasing the share of low-carbon power generation.

Increasing shares of electricity are being realised in transport (uptake in electric vehicles and freight) and buildings (cooking, heating and appliances), but in industry more challenges remain. The share of electricity in total final energy consumption is therefore a useful indicator of progress, in addition to power sector decarbonisation.

The share of electricity reached almost 19% in 2017, incrementally increasing each year since 2000. It is estimated that electrification is on an upward path even with current policies, but its pace needs to more than double to achieve the SDS target of 28% in 2040.


Average annual change in energy intensity

Global energy intensity improved by only 1.7% in 2017; the average rate of energy intensity improvement needs to accelerate to 3.4% annually.

	Annual change	2017	SDS Target
1990-2013 average	-1.463033605	0	0
2014	-2.862592071	0	0
2015	-2.468057026	0	0
2016	-2.268611633	0	0
2017	0	-1.692631735	0
2018-2040 average	0	0	-3.442427511
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The energy intensity indicator tracks total primary energy demand per unit of GDP. In 2017, global energy intensity improved by 1.7%, a decline from the 2.3% improvement in 2016.

Reaching the SDS target requires speeding up improvements in energy intensity to 3.4% annually, with the total primary energy demand barely growing over today’s level.

As an aggregate indicator, energy intensity is affected by changes in both energy efficiency and structural changes in economies. Falling energy intensity was the main factor behind the flattening of global energy-related CO2 emissions from 2014-2016, offsetting three-quarters of the impact of GDP increase.

Sectoral analysis of energy efficiency below shows that while policy coverage continues to expand, the rate of increase over the past few years has been slower than in early 2010s.


Energy efficiency and drivers of final energy consumption

Energy efficiency has improved by an estimated 13% since 2000, without which, both energy use and CO2 emissions would have been around 12% higher in 2017.

	Actual energy use	Without efficiency
2000	22776.55114	22776.55114
2001	23103.83475	23569.26805
2002	23505.54417	24079.45849
2003	24540.12303	25249.03213
2004	25696.10836	26381.19479
2005	26626.3912	27243.48806
2006	27460.33833	28694.80864
2007	28557.64549	30272.71633
2008	28760.2227	30782.3397
2009	28346.64366	30229.44056
2010	30034.00743	31779.38445
2011	30929.18661	33024.76599
2012	31194.26117	33479.53612
2013	31721.88864	34200.07124
2014	31898.761	34674.2199
2015	31857.63515	34948.33609
2016	31653.45307	35195.20921
2017	32086.83593	36039.41837
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Global energy efficiency improved by 13% overall between 2000 and 2017, and has been the main driver for the decoupling of economic growth and energy consumption. Without it, the world would have used just over 12% more energy in 2017, increasing emissions by the equivalent of nearly 4 Gt of CO2.

Government policy has been key to achieving these energy efficiency gains, but a recent weakening of energy efficiency policy – on both coverage and stringency - contributed to the slower rate of global energy intensity improvement that was observed in 2017. Considerable room for policy action remains, with around 66% of global final energy consumption still not covered by mandatory efficiency codes and standards.

While IEA member countries report energy efficiency indicators as a part of their annual energy data collection, estimates are used in other regions. Building capacity and institutions to better collect and analyse energy efficiency data would equip all countries for effective domestic energy use policy making.


Low-carbon investment in clean energy transition

The share of overall clean energy investment in 2017, covering both low-carbon power and efficiency, declined to 32%, breaking the upward trend since 2014. In the SDS it needs to rise to 68% in 2040.

Investment shares in the SDS 	Clean Energy Investment	Fossil Fuel Investment	Network Investment
2014	24.74300035	62.96317081	12.29382884
2015	28.41814429	57.39317488	14.18868083
2016	32.73078971	50.94733135	16.32187893
2017	31.67963784	51.48807807	16.83228408
2020	43.92419361	42.31851403	13.75729236
2025	56.71548599	31.51932714	11.76518687
2030	63.75617733	23.39888531	12.84493737
2035	66.9403927	18.64142638	14.41818092
2040	67.95716096	15.94132211	16.10151692
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Note: Clean energy investment comprises renewables, nuclear and end-use efficiency.

Tracking energy-investment decisions provides a preview of the type of technologies that are about to be built or are being developed. Tracking the share of clean energy investment gives an indication of the trajectory for clean energy technology deployment into the future, and the extent to which investment flows are shifting towards clean energy technologies.

In 2017 the share of overall clean energy investment, covering both low-carbon power and efficiency, declined to 32%, breaking the upward trend since 2014. In the SDS, total energy investment increases by 98% from today’s level by 2040, with a marked shift towards clean energy: the share of clean energy investment in the energy sector increases to 68% in 2040, with the share of fossil fuel investment in the energy sector falling to 16% from 51% today.

While the absolute level of electricity network investment in the SDS increases, its share in total investment remains relatively stable at 16% in 2040 due to the substantial increase in energy efficiency investment.

It is important to highlight that SDS shows that achieving the Paris Agreement’s objectives would require only 15% more investment in the energy sector up to 2040 than what would be needed if countries were to stay on the current course of existing and planned decarbonisation policies. However, much more capital needs to be allocated towards end-use efficiency and clean energy technologies.


Public and private investment in clean energy research

Public and private investment in clean energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) is a critical indicator for tracking overall clean energy transition trends, especially for long-term progress. Many clean energy technologies are now cost competitive, but there are further innovation needs in a wide range of possible clean energy solutions.

Public investment in clean energy RD&D is estimated to have grown by 13% to USD 22 billion globally in 2017, after several years of decline or stagnation. Government funding for low-carbon energy R&D in 2017 accounted for four-fifths of total public funding for energy R&D (including fossil fuel extraction and supply).

Reported R&D spending by companies active in clean energy areas is estimated to have increased by 5% to USD 58 billion in 2017, close to the average 6% rate of growth of the past five years. Low-carbon energy may account for as much as two-thirds of total reported corporate energy R&D spending.

Venture capital funding for clean energy start-ups was USD 2.1 billion in 2017, down from the 2016 value of around 4 billion, and for the major part driven by investments in clean transportation.

Read more about RD&D spending


Sub-sectoral indicators

Sub-sector indicators are also needed to obtain metrics that can be used for design and implementation of policies and measures for specific energy sectors. Such indicators can serve as tools to monitor progress as well as provide insights on how to target policy interventions. A set of key sectoral indicators is available for power, buildings, transport and industry.

Indicators Measure Scope
Power sector View sector
Power CO2 emissions CO2 Emissions
Share of low-carbon power generation in overall power generation % Supply
Average CO2 intensity of electricity generation (gCO2/kWh) CO2/energy Supply
CO2 intensity of power generation from new investment (gCO2/kWh) CO2/energy Investment
Share of new low-carbon power generation in overall new power generation investment % Investment
Buildings sector View sector
Buildings CO2 emissions CO2 Emissions
Buildings sector energy performance (intensity) (total final energy used per m2 Energy/m2 Demand
Mandatory energy efficiency policy coverage of building energy use % Demand
Transport sector View sector
Transport CO2 emissions CO2 Emissions
Total transport-related final energy consumption per unit of GDP Energy/$ Demand
Energy efficiency policy coverage in transport (% of new vehicle sales covered by regulations) % Demand
Share of EVs in new vehicles sales % Demand
Share of biofuels in transport (of total liquid fuels) % Demand
Industry sector View sector
Industry CO2 emissions CO2 Emissions
Industrial productivity: industrial value added/final industrial energy use Energy/$ Demand
Mandatory policy coverage of industrial energy use % Demand
CO2 intensity of industrial energy supply CO2/energy Supply

Sustainable Development Goals

Tracking against Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is also critical given the level of political recognition of the importance of energy to development.

The IEA is the lead custodian agency for tracking global progress in substantially increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and doubling on efforts in energy efficiency (SDG 7.2 & 7.3) and co-leads the Global Tracking Framework report to assess progress towards achieving SDG 7. IEA is also the custodian for tracking the rationalization of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies (SDG 12.c), another important lever for achieving the energy transition laid out in the SDS.

The gender-clean energy nexus is also important in driving the clean energy transition and can be used by policy makers to design and monitor effective policy responses.

In developing the SDS, the IEA recognised the importance of the SDGs in energy transitions. The SDS combines effective action to combat climate change (SDG 13), ensure universal access to modern energy by 2030 (SDG target 7.1) and improve air quality (SDG 3). Other SDG 7 targets are also over-achieved: SDG 7.2 (increasing substantially the share of renewable energy by 2030) and SDG 7.3 (doubling the global rate of energy efficiency improvement by 2030).

See the IEA's SDG 7 tracking page for more information and the latest statistics.