ACEEE Report Says Most Economic Projections are off on Potential
Energy Efficiency Benefits
August 6, 2009
"Why do most economic assessments of climate change policies
either ignore or greatly understate the potential advances of energy
efficiency, which is the largest and most cost effective form of
greenhouse gas mitigation?" That was a question raised by John
A. "Skip" Laitner, director of the American Council for
an Energy-Efficient Economy's (ACEEE) Economic and Social Analysis
Program. He answered by saying the "immediate barrier"
is the misreading of the historical track record about energy efficiency.
"Most studies for and against greenhouse gas emissions misread
the historical records on energy efficiency," said Laitner.
As a means to provide "accurate gauging of climate legislation"
the ACEEE published a new report that finds many conventional climate
economic impact studies misread the historical record on the nation's
energy productivity opportunities. Titled "The Positive Economics
of Climate Change Policies: What the Historical Evidence Can Tell
Us," the report suggests that most studies that evaluate "cap-and-trade"
policies either ignore or greatly understate the potential advances
in energy efficiency.
"The evidence shows that productive investments in energy-efficient
technologies can enable the U.S. economy to save money and to substantially
reduce its greenhouse gas emissions - both immediately and by mid-century,"
said Laitner, who authored the report.
As part of the study, Laitner conducted a diagnostic review of the
recent assessments of the H.R. 2454 climate change legislation.
The economic data makes the following conclusions:
- Energy efficiency investments can provide up to one-half of
the needed greenhouse gas emissions reductions most scientists
say are needed between now and the year 2050;
- Investments in more energy-productive technologies can also
lead to a substantial net energy bill savings for the consumer
and for the nation's businesses. In the diagnostic assessment
summarized in this report, savings are on the order of two trillion
dollars by 2050 (measured in constant 2007 dollars);
- Non-energy expenditures within the United States tend to be
more labor-intensive and provide a greater rate of contribution
to the nation's gross domestic product compared to expenditures
on energy. Instead of taking jobs away from the economy, the diagnostic
assessment here suggests a small but net positive gain in the
- Hence, shifting away from the production and consumption of
conventional energy resources, in favor of more productive investments
in energy-efficient technologies, can lead to a more robust economy
and to a greater level of overall employment opportunities with
"The evidence is compelling," Laitner said. "With
advances in new materials, new designs and the emerging contributions
from information and communication technologies, energy productivity
gains can power the economy in new ways that reduce greenhouse gas
He also added, "Our report shows much education needs to be
done if we're to get the economic models on the right page when
it comes to the real potential and future benefits of energy efficiency,"
HERE to read more about the report.
HERE to read an article on how climate change legislation could
impact the glass industry.
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