​IEA launches Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency

IEA executive director Fatih Birol. Image: Nelson Bennett/Business in Vancouver

The International Energy Agency has established the IEA Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency to examine how progress on energy efficiency can be rapidly accelerated through new and stronger policy action.

“More than any single fuel, energy efficiency has a central role to play in meeting global sustainable energy goals,” the IEA said in a statement.

The IEA calculates that with the right policies, the global economy could double in size by 2040 while still maintaining broadly the same level of energy use as today.

Those policies alone would enable the world to achieve more than 40 percent of the emissions cuts needed to reach international climate goals using cost-effective technologies that are already available, the IEA says, but “policy implementation has slowed and efficiency progress is weakening.”

Global energy-related CO2 emissions increased last year at their highest rate since 2013, and air pollution continues to be linked to millions of premature deaths each year, the IEA says.

The focus of the new energy efficiency panel will be on key policy actions that can be taken by countries across the globe. It will produce a concise list of clear, actionable recommendations next year, the IEA says.

Ireland Prime Minister Leo Varadkar will the honorary chair of the commission, with members including current and former ministers for energy and environment from Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Morocco, New Zealand and Spain.

The IEA says that Amani Abou-Zeid, the African Union Commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure, and Wan Gang, the previous Chinese Minister of Science and Technology, who is known as the “father of electric vehicles” in China, have also agreed to take part.

Richard Bruton, Ireland’s Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, will chair the commission’s ongoing work. Business leaders taking part include Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, Siemens gas and power CEO Lisa Davis, and New York Power Authority president Gil Quiniones.