Global energy body backs push for heat and building efficiency in 2030

IEA analyzes indicate that commitments to double energy efficiency improvement targets for buildings, transport and industry will have significant cost and environmental benefits

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), improving the energy efficiency of buildings and prioritizing heat pumps over fossil fuel systems should be among the top priorities for global decarbonization.

Organization analysis, which studies and advises governments around the world on energy supplies, says global commitments to increase the use of more efficient technologies and materials this decade could significantly reduce carbon emissions.

These emission reductions could be achieved without compromising economic growth by focusing on shifting to high-efficiency solutions in buildings, transport and industry, the IEA added.

These claims have been made in a new IEA study titled “The Value of Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency”. The release of the results coincided with the IEA’s 7th Annual Global Energy Efficiency Conference held earlier this month. The conference saw a joint statement published representatives from around two dozen countries like the UK, who highlighted the “significant environmental, economic and social benefits” of early action on energy efficiency over the next decade.

Efficiency improvements

The IEA’s analysis examines the concept of scaling up efficiency measures in line with its Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (NZE) scenario. This would see improvements in global energy intensity double between 2020 and 2030 to 4% from the 2% recorded between 2010 and 2020. Energy intensity rates are based on measuring energy consumption per unit of GDP.

Successfully making these improvements could enable the global economy to be a third more energy efficient by the end of the current decade, the IEA said.

The association said in the research that efforts to reduce energy demand could have significant benefits in reducing emissions from buildings.

He added: “In 2020, energy consumption in buildings amounted to approximately 129 exajoules (EJ) and contributed approximately 28% of all global energy-related emissions. Early action on energy efficiency, including electrification and other fuel switching, averts about 37 EJ by 2030. This translates to about 1.2 Gt of emissions reductions due to the direct combustion of fossil fuels in buildings and also contributes to reducing overall emissions from the electricity sector.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said the issue of energy efficiency would be key to solving a series of pressing global challenges by ensuring a more secure, sustainable and affordable energy supply.

Mr Birol said: ‘But inexplicably, government and business leaders are not doing enough on this. The oil shocks of the 1970s triggered major advances in efficiency, and it is absolutely essential that efficiency be at the heart of the response to the current global energy crisis.

“Leaders gathered at the IEA Global Energy Efficiency Conference must ensure that the world accelerates the acceleration of energy efficiency – otherwise we risk failing to respond adequately to the current energy crisis and pay the price for years to come.”

Renovation campaign in the UK

Bodies such as the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) have called on the government to support a national renovation strategy focused on improving the energy efficiency of existing housing stock in the UK .

Lord Callanan, Britain’s business and energy minister, told a parliamentary reception in May that he had advocated and would continue to advocate for more money to be allocated to insulation and efficiency programs energy.

However, any decision to introduce efficiency incentives would rest with the Treasury, with the forthcoming publication of a new Energy Bill being identified as a possible area for reforms to be introduced, if at all.

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