The world is using energy more wisely. Total energy consumption continues to rise, but energy intensity – worldwide total energy consumption divided by gross world product – dropped 20.5 percent between 1981 and 2010, according to Worldwatch Institute, a Washington-based environmental research group. Until recently, global efficiency growth has accelerated as cars, appliances, and economies do more with less. In the 1980s, energy intensity dropped at an average annual rate of 0.98 percent, while dropping at 1.4 percent in the 1990s, during the peak of the developed world’s transition to service-based economies.
The decline of energy intensity leveled out in the 2000s and even ticked up 1.35 percent in 2010, according to Worldwatch Institute. That’s largely due to energy demand outpacing economic growth in the wake of the 2008 global recession.