New energy efficiency improvement in the USA in 2019, after slight rise in 2018.
Global energy intensity (total energy consumption per unit of GDP) improved by 2.1% in 2019, i.e. faster than its historical trend (-1.6%/year on average between 2000 and 2018 and -1.2% in 2018). However, this improvement remains far from the 3.5%/year decrease required to achieve the 2°C scenario.
Energy intensity levels and trends differ widely across world regions, reflecting differences in economic structure and energy efficiency achievements.
China’s energy intensity reduction continued in 2019 (-2.8%, close to its historical trend): in 2019, its energy intensity stood 44% below its 2000 level, still 17% above the world average.
Since 2000, the USA and the EU have cut their energy intensity by more than 30% thanks to energy efficiency efforts, to changes in the power mix (higher share of renewables and gas) and to a lesser extent to a structural shift toward less energy-intensive industry branches and the growing share of services in the GDP. Energy intensity in the EU was 33% below the world average in 2019, with reductions accelerating in 2019 compared to historical trends.
The high energy intensity in the CIS, the Middle East, China and some developing Asian countries is explained by the dominance of energy-intensive industries, commodity exporting-based economies and low energy prices that do not encourage energy efficiency. In 2019, energy intensity decreased in Asia (especially in India, Japan and South Korea), in Canada and in Mexico. It stayed stable in Russia (+0.4%, almost no change since 2010), where it remains twice as high as the global average, and increased in most Middle East countries.
Switzerland’s electricity consumption declined by 2.6% in 2020 to 55.7 TWh, according to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. This decline was due to the COVID-19 related lockdowns (-4.3% in electricity consumption in the first quarter and -7.8% in the second quarter of 2020), and to economic trends (2.9% drop in the GDP), weather conditions (the number of heating degree days fell by 4.4% compared to 2019) and energy efficiency improvements to a lesser extent.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from operators covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) fell by 13.3% in 2020, due to an 11.2% decrease in emissions from stationary installations (power plants and manufacturing plants) to 1.331 MtCO2eq and a 64.1% decrease in emissions from aviation, a sector which was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, to 24.5 MtCO2eq.
The power sector posted a 14.9% decrease, as a result of reduced electricity consumption due to the pandemic and continued decarbonisation trends, including both the switch from coal to gas-fired power generation, and the replacement of fossil fuels by renewables. In addition, emissions from industry decreased by an average of 7%, with reductions observed in most sectors, including iron and steel (-11.7%), cement (-5.1%), chemicals (-4%) and refineries (-8.1%).
According to preliminary data from the Ministry of the Ecological Transition, France’s primary energy consumption decreased by 9.9% in 2020 to 2,571 TWh. Final energy consumption declined by 7.9% to 1,637 TWh in 2020, including 147 TWh for non-energy uses (final consumption for energy use at constant climate declined by 5.6% in 2020). The lockdown measures and travel restrictions had a significant impact on energy consumption in the transport and industrial sectors: energy consumption fell by nearly 16% in transport and by 6.5% in industry. The energy consumption of residential and tertiary building adjusted for climate variations increased slightly (+1.5% with climate corrections).
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell by 1.7% in 2019 to 5,769 MtCO2eq (including LULUCF), i.e. 13% below their 2005 level. The decrease in total energy consumption in 2019 (compared to 2018) and to a continued shift from coal to gas and renewables in the power sector reduced emissions from fossil fuel combustion.