Energy efficiency, the No. 1 lever for decarbonization

By ENGIE - 07 January 2021 - 14:31

Energy efficiency is an essential lever on the path to carbon neutrality. Here's what our experts have to say on the topic, in our new Energy Transition Dashboard.

What is energy efficiency? 

Energy efficiency refers to the set of actions that consist in limiting the energy needs of transport, buildings, factories, etc., the objective being to reduce energy consumption. Examples include improving the energy performance of buildings, reducing the size of vehicles and optimising the supply chain. In short, it covers everything that can contribute, on all levels and in all possible ways, to reducing the amount of energy we consume.    


Energy efficiency, the No. 1 lever for decarbonization

In our 2020 Energy Transition Dashboard published in October (see box below), our experts present two major paths towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming to +2°C by 2100: reduced energy consumption on the one hand, and energy decarbonization* on the other. The main levers to achieve this include the development of renewable energies and the improvement of energy efficiency, with the latter offering the greatest potential: it can reduce global energy consumption by more than a third! 


The Energy Transition Dashboard, put simply

This new format replaces our “A World of Energy” report providing an annual overview of the energy situation in France and around the world and published by the Group for the past 10 years. In the Energy Transition Dashboard, our experts take the analysis a step further, detailing the implementation of the energy transition. The aim is to optimise the support provided to our stakeholders – companies, public authorities, employees and citizens – to help them understand the transition and propose concrete actions to make it a reality. 


Significant room for improvement 

However, not nearly enough progress has been made in the area of energy efficiency.  Nonetheless, over the past two decades, energy consumption has fallen by around 20% in all major economies, although the pace has slowed in recent years on a worldwide scale, with investments stagnating in 2019. Yet implementing energy efficiency solutions demands massive investment.


Substantial untapped potential

The Dashboard puts forward reasons for this slow pace. Energy efficiency implies improving equipment and innovating in order to reduce energy intensity. However, energy prices are currently low, which does not encourage economic players to invest in the long term to reduce their energy consumption. The transport and construction sectors are particularly concerned, since they are high emitters of greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, the paths towards improved energy efficiency are clearly defined and promising: for example, the thermal renovation of buildings, the development of vehicle hybridization, reducing the size of vehicles, improving the efficiency of internal combustion engines, etc.  

While the EU is beefing up its regulatory arsenal to improve energy efficiency**, this is not yet the case in all countries around the world. Finally, to speed up the transition to carbon neutrality, it is essential that this lever be used in conjunction with the development of renewable energies and the generalisation of energy sobriety for the population as a whole.


>> Find more information about energy efficiency on pages 48 and 49 of the Energy transition dashboard


Also read: Energy sufficiency: the other side of the energy transition


*Decarbonization refers to the action of removing carbon dioxide from a substance. By extension, the word is used to describe the process of trying to move away from the use of fossil fuels such as oil, coal or gas and to replace them with renewable, carbon-neutral energy.  

**near-zero energy building, Green Deal