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Expand chart
Adapted from IEA's Energy Efficiency 2019 report; Chart: Axios Visuals

New International Energy Agency data out Monday shows just paltry advances in global energy efficiency last year.

What they found: Primary energy intensity — that is, amount of energy needed per unit of GDP — improved by just 1.2% in 2018. That's the third consecutive year of declining gains and the slowest improvement since 2010, the agency said.

Where it stands: IEA lists several reasons for the slowdown, including...

  • Big structural forces, like consumer preferences for bigger cars and growth in average per-capita residential floor area.
  • Higher 2018 production from energy-thirsty industries in the U.S. and China.
  • Slowdown in the toughening of mandatory efficiency policies.
  • Weather, with a hot U.S. summer and a cold winter, driving up energy use.

Why it matters: Improvements in efficiency are an important tool for fighting climate change.

  • But IEA says the global pace is nowhere close to what's needed to help get the world on a pathway consistent with the goals of the Paris agreement.

What they're saying: “We can improve energy efficiency by 3% per year simply through the use of existing technologies and cost-effective investments," IEA executive director Fatih Birol said in a statement.

  • "Ambitious policies need to be put in place to spur investment and put the necessary technologies to work on a global scale," he adds.

Go deeper

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

19 mins ago - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.

Climate reckoning for oil and gas CEOs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell will face a reckoning on Capitol Hill Thursday, as they're grilled on evidence that their companies knew for years that their products were driving climate change but chose to downplay or deny it.

Why it matters: The hearing before the House Oversight Committee will be the first time these executives have been brought together to provide sworn testimony regarding what they knew about the ties between their company's products and climate change, and when they knew it.