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Could 2022 mark a turning point in global energy efficiency?

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent, Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
  • 755 items added with 372,305 views
  • Jan 3, 2023
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The question in the headline is an honest one, backed by data. A new report from the International Energy Agency shows that the global economy in 2022 used energy 2% more efficiently than in 2021, "a rate of improvement almost four times that of the past two years, and almost double the rate of the past five years," the report reads. 

To boot, global investments in energy efficiency reached $560 billion in 2022, a 16% increase over the prior year, and energy bills in countries the IEA works with are expected to be $680 billion less than they would have been absent energy efficiency actions and policies. If this rate of improvement—in efficiency YOY, investment and bill reduction — keeps up, it is not far-fetched to think of 2022 as a turning point. 

Why 2022 though? Well, some owe it to Russia, and how their decision to invade the sovereign nation of Ukraine sent energy prices skyrocketing. When gasoline in the U.S. reaches over $7 per gallon and the UK and Europe see utility bills go through the roof, energy efficiency becomes a more pertinent conversation. 

“The oil shocks of the 1970s led to a massive push by governments on energy efficiency, resulting in substantial improvements in the energy efficiency of cars, appliances and buildings,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a press release about the IEA report. “Amid today’s energy crisis, we are seeing signs that energy efficiency is once again being prioritized. Energy efficiency is essential for dealing with today’s crisis, with its huge potential to help tackle the challenges of energy affordability, energy security and climate change.”

For the globe to achieve IEA's net-zero by 2050 scenario, energy efficiency improvements will need to happen at a rate of 4% each year of this decade. If the global economy is able to uphold that kind of rate, then yes, 2022 will have very well marked a turning point for energy efficiency. 

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