High-level indicators

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

The complex nature of clean-energy transitions requires a suite of measures to monitor their status and highlight key opportunities for enhanced action – that is, “levers” that can be pulled to speed transitions up. The IEA has developed a set of key indicators that reflect the most important short-term actions that policymakers can focus on to drive long-term clean-energy transitions. These indicators create an accessible and comprehensive tracking framework for clean energy transitions, and they can be used to develop more effective and well-coordinated energy transition policies.

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

How do key indicators fit together?

Global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.4% in 2017 after three flat years. In order to reach long-term climate mitigation targets, emissions need to peak before 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 need to be 43% below the current levels by 2040 in order to be on track with the Paris Agreement.


Global fuel combustion-related CO2 emissions

Global emissions need to peak soon and decline steeply after 2020, dropping by 2.4% on average annually until 2040.

	Total	Power	Transport	Industry	Buildings
2000	23.013	9.243	5.742	3.810	2.690
2001	23.350	9.435	5.771	3.836	2.723
2002	23.752	9.655	5.909	3.832	2.717
2003	24.802	10.225	6.041	4.009	2.811
2004	25.974	10.592	6.315	4.448	2.865
2005	26.905	11.083	6.447	4.689	2.876
2006	27.750	11.523	6.592	4.926	2.845
2007	28.847	12.016	6.797	5.233	2.849
2008	29.009	11.942	6.808	5.367	2.912
2009	28.586	11.740	6.676	5.320	2.898
2010	30.259	12.549	6.960	5.764	2.928
2011	31.139	13.097	7.077	6.019	2.859
2012	31.386	13.293	7.203	5.944	2.856
2013	31.912	13.476	7.340	6.011	2.942
2014	32.111	13.534	7.486	6.056	2.910
2015	32.077	13.422	7.682	5.977	2.911
2016	32.071	13.353	7.763	5.942	2.924
2017	32.520	13.704			
2025	28.799	10.314	7.632	6.060	2.825
2030	25.146	7.719	7.129	5.774	2.721
2035	21.170	5.223	6.455	5.344	2.543
2040	18.310	3.688	5.841	4.935	2.402
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Total greenhouse gas emissions are the product of a complex set of underlying changes in energy supply and demand. In addition, a wider set of indicators beyond emissions is also needed to understand underlying drivers of a clean-energy transitions.


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 45% by 2040 from current levels.

	ESCII	Target
2000	3.3
2001	3.3
2002	3.29
2003	3.28
2004	3.28
2005	3.26
2006	3.27
2007	3.28
2008	3.32
2009	3.26
2010	3.24
2011	3.24
2012	3.24
2013	3.24
2014	3.25
2015	3.27
2016	3.27
2030	2.52	2.52
2040	1.8	1.8
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The energy sector carbon intensity indicator tracks the amount of carbon emissions from fuel combustion (expressed in tonnes of carbon dioxide per unit of total final consumption).

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. It fell by 1.5% since 2013, showing tentative signs that the global energy supply has been getting a little cleaner in recent years, though the 2017 emissions increase may indicate a reversal. To meet the SDS target, carbon intensity needs to decline by 25% to 2030 and by 45% to 2040.


Share of electricity in total final energy consumption

The share of electricity in final energy consumption should reach 27% in 2040 to meet the SDS targets.

	Historical	SDS Targets
2000	15.52	
2001	15.66	
2002	15.96	
2003	16.12	
2004	16.11	
2005	16.43	
2006	16.72	
2007	17.04	
2008	17.19	
2009	17.27	
2010	17.55	
2011	17.78	
2012	18.07	
2013	18.29	
2014	18.45	
2015	18.57	
2016	18.74	
2017	18.84	18.84
2020	20.00	20.00
2025	21.00	21.00
2030	23.00	23.00
2035	25.00	25.00
2040	27.00	27.00
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The share of electricity in total final energy consumption provides a pathway for clean-energy transitions through the electrification of end use sectors, with increasing shares of electrified transport (electric vehicles and freight) and buildings, with more challenges in industry. The share of electricity reached almost 19% in 2017, rising by 1.1% on average since 2010. To achieve the SDS target, electrification needs to reach 27% 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 3.2% annually.

	Average annual change	SDS Target
1990-2013	-1.3	0.00
2014	-2.04986787	0.00
2015	-2.762781452	0.00
2016	-2.015339488	0.00
2017	-1.7	0.00
2018-2040	0	-3.20
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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%, which was worse than the 2.0% improvement in 2016. Reaching the SDS target requires 3.2% improvements annually. 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.


Energy efficiency and drivers of final energy consumption

Energy efficiency has improved by an estimated 13.5% since 2000.

	Actual energy use	Without efficiency
2000	268.974	268.971
2001	270.752	272.395
2002	274.710	277.616
2003	283.275	288.013
2004	296.027	302.379
2005	304.028	314.036
2006	311.898	327.022
2007	321.419	340.827
2008	325.874	348.486
2009	321.835	345.518
2010	338.652	360.836
2011	344.562	370.421
2012	348.357	378.756
2013	355.425	386.552
2014	359.946	393.936
2015	363.929	403.402
2016	369.232	412.267
2017	376.986	423.273
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2017 estimated

Global energy efficiency improved by 13% overall between 2000 and 2016, and has been the main driver for the decoupling of economic growth and energy consumption. 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 policymaking.


Low-carbon investment in clean energy transition

Only 15% additional investment is required to 2040 to achieve the Sustainable Development Scenario, with two-thirds of energy supply investment going to electricity generation & networks.

	Fossil fuel	Other low carbon	Renewables	Electricity networks
2017-20	0.909679958	0.053903358	0.29331481	0.293080558
2021-30	0.975786905	0.068207135	0.306064889	0.337125511
2031-40	1.140551876	0.060806354	0.36822466	0.368291382
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Tracking energy-investment decisions provides a preview of the type of technologies that are about to be built or are being developed. The share of low-carbon investment gives an indication of the trajectory for low-carbon technology deployment into the future, and the extent to which investment flows are shifting towards low-carbon technologies. The share of electricity investments exceeded those to oil, gas and coal sectors combined for the first time in 2016.

Investment in coal declined, while investment in renewables remained flat thanks to falling costs. Energy efficiency investment grew 9%. Fossil fuels received the majority share of investment in energy supply, although this dropped under 60% for the first time in 2016. The SDS sees a strong shift away from fossil-fuel supply and fossil-fuel power generation, for which investment falls through 2030, and toward low-carbon power supply and improving the energy efficiency of end-use sectors.

Read more about RD&D spending


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 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% globally in 2017 after several years of decline or stagnation. Reported R&D spending by companies active in clean energy areas is estimated to have increased by 4% in 2017, broadly in line with the five-year trend of nearly 6% annual growth.

Venture capital funding for clean energy start-ups was USD 2.5 billion in 2017, above the four-year average.


Sustainable Development Goals

Tracking against Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is also critical. The IEA provides annual country-by-country data on access to electricity and clean cooking (SDG 7.1) and is the main source for tracking progress towards renewables (SDG 7.2) and energy efficiency (SDG 7.3) targets. The gender-clean energy nexus is also important in driving the clean energy transition and can be used by policymakers to design and monitor effective policy responses.

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


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.