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COPENHAGEN: Global progress toward energy efficiency has accelerated this year as a result of high energy prices and disruptions to fuel supply but still not enough to meet climate change targets, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday.

The Paris-based watchdog has called for governments to prioritize efforts to improve energy efficiency in buildings and transport, as ambitions to reduce emissions and curb rising temperatures cannot be met by only focusing on building out renewable energy.

“The oil shocks of the 1970s led to a massive push by governments on energy efficiency, resulting in substantial improvements in the energy efficiency of cars, appliances and buildings,” IEA head Fatih Birol said in a statement.

“Amid today’s energy crisis, we are seeing signs that energy efficiency is once again being prioritised,” he said. Preliminary data indicate that global investments in energy efficiency such as heat pumps and building insulation will increase 16% this year to $560 billion, according to IEA.

The investments have led to energy being used 2% more efficiently this year compared with last year, almost double the rate of the past five years, but short of the average 4% per year the IEA says is needed this decade to meet its 2050 net zero emission scenario.

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Nearly 3 million heat pumps - which use electric-powered mechanical energy rather than fossil fuels to heat and cool buildings - are projected to be sold in Europe this year, double compared with units sold in 2019, the IEA said.

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