Energy Efficiency Progress Stalls amid Pandemic

Pandemic crisis

Global progress toward energy efficiency has slowed to its lowest rate in a decade. Prices were subdued amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday.

Energy intensity is likely to improve by only 0.8% this year. This is a result of the health crisis and continuing low energy prices. That’s roughly half the rates last year, to levels last reached in 2010, the Paris-based watchdog said in a report.

This is well below the level necessary to achieve global climate and sustainability goals. The group puts at more than 3% on the goals.

Emptier flights, cheaper fuel, distancing measures hampering building insulation upgrades and smart meter installation explain the slowdown. In addition, slower car sales due to mobility restrictions, the IEA said.

In early 2020, the agency recommended that policymakers use the economic pause inflicted by the pandemic. This is to prioritize renewable energy to curb carbon emissions.

However, the IEA found that squeezed state and corporate budgets have led to investment in new energy-efficient buildings as well as in equipment and vehicles that are being projected to be down 9% in 2020.

It’s a point of concern because energy efficiency delivers more than 40% of the reduction in energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. That’s over the next 20 years, according to the organization’s models, the IEA added.

Gold Regains Shine 

Gold rose on Thursday morning in Asia’s precious metals. It’s regaining its shine even after news of the first approval for a COVID-19 vaccine saw a retreat from the gold. Investors are also watching out for developments on the latest U.S. stimulus measures.

By 12:10 AM ET (4:10 AM GMT), gold futures were up 0.44% at $1,838.20. It remained above the $1,800 mark.

The first regulator to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine was the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. In fact, it accepted BNT162b2, the vaccine candidate jointly developed by BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc, on Wednesday.

In the following week, the U.S. FDA is preparing to meet for an advisory committee meeting. Vaccine developer Moderna Inc is also awaiting clearance for its candidate mRNA-1273 in the U.S. and Europe.

Meanwhile, a fresh $908 billion bipartisan proposal is slowly gaining traction. It’s the starting point for Republicans and Democrats to pass the latest stimulus measures ahead of a Dec. 11 deadline.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, along with U.S. President Trump, have expressed support for a separate proposal. It was brought forth by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after he rejected the $908 billion package.

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