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A "cause for alarm" on global fuel economy

Freeways in Los Angeles. Photo: Ken Ross/VW PICS/UIG via Getty Images

The Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) report released via the International Energy Agency this week warned that the average fuel economy improvement rate for advanced countries slowed to only 0.2% per year between 2015 and 2017 — and "more than 20 countries experiencing a reversal in the evolution of their fuel economy."

Why it matters: It's nowhere near the GFEI target of 3.7% annual improvements in order to help control CO2 emissions.

The big picture: Worldwide, the average fuel economy improvement rate slowed to 1.4% per year between 2015 and 2017, although the gains in emerging economies were higher. IEA chief Fatih Birol, in a statement alongside the report, called the overall slowdown "cause for alarm."

  • "Improving vehicle fuel efficiency saves money, cuts carbon emissions while also reducing harmful air pollution and boosting energy security," he said.
  • There are several forces driving the trends, including the increase in consumers' appetite for SUVs and pickups.

Go deeper: IEA has a cool interactive tool to track vehicle sales, efficiency and other data across 18 major auto markets including that in the U.S.