The world is using its energy more efficiently even as markets are flooded with cheap oil and gas, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported in an analysis of global energy efficiency gains released earlier this month.
Energy intensity, which measures the amount of fuel consumed per unit of gross domestic product, fell 1.8% last year, triple the average rate over the past decade, the Paris-based IEA said.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that energy efficiency needs to be central in energy policies,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA. “All of the core imperatives of energy policy — reducing energy bills, decarbonization, air pollution, energy security, and energy access — are made more attainable if led by strong energy efficiency policy.”
China reduced its energy intensity 5.6% last year, the most of all nations surveyed. The nation has invested $370 billion in efficiency from 2006 to 2014, saving as much as 497 gigawatts, equivalent to all of the country’s installed renewable generation, according to the IEA.
Government policy setting standards on everything from cars to buildings to appliances has been the main driver behind the efficiency push, the IEA said.
Stricter mileage rules on cars and light trucks led to an overall reduction of 2.3 million barrels of oil per day last year, or 2.5% of daily oil supply.
The IEA estimated its 29 member countries saved enough energy between 2000 and 2015 to power all of Japan for a year.
The institution says even those gains aren’t enough to curb global warming. An overall decrease of at least 2.6% would be needed to reach the climate goals set out in the Paris agreement sealed in December, the report said.