Howard Learner in National Journal: Energy Efficiency Key in Climate Change Fight

The National Journal’s Energy Insider’s blog this week asks if it is too late to fight climate change.

Howard Learner offers this response, which you can also find here.

Bending the Temperature Rise Arc

 The science is clear that global climate change is occurring.  That debate is over.  How much can mitigation measures bend the arc on rising temperatures?  There’s more diversity of scientific views on the precise amount, but, as the IEA recommends, we must seize the policy, business and economic growth opportunities for our health and safety.

Let’s focus first on energy efficiency because it’s the best, fastest and cheapest approach to reduce carbon pollution. Energy efficiency ties together several of the IEA’s climate change mitigation recommendations to transform our energy economy in ways that are less polluting and advance clean technological innovations.

The quiet revolution of energy efficiency technological improvements is flattening electricity demand in the United States.  Refrigerators, air conditioners and many household appliances are more energy efficient, and, over time, people are replacing their older home equipment with newer, more efficient models.  Commercial HVAC and lighting retrofits add more efficiency, and modern industrial pumps and motors use electricity more frugally.  The emergence of high-efficiency LED lighting over the next five years is a game changer that can save businesses and people money, avoid waste and avoid pollution.

Policy advances and technological innovations are coming together.  Federal and state appliance and equipment efficiency standards are saving people and businesses’ money while reducing pollution.  Consumer-funded investments through utilities’ energy efficiency programs are achieving results.  R&D labs are advancing technological innovations that drive more efficient devices and products to global consumer markets.  Transferring and export these technology advances to developing countries can mitigate carbon pollution.

Energy efficiency is flattening demand in U.S. electricity markets, as shown by the recent PJM capacity market auction for 2016 in which prices dropped 60% over the prior year.  That’s having a sharp economic impact on potential coal plant retirements, which is another one of the IEA’s policy goals.

The quiet revolution in energy efficiency and accelerating technological innovations can help to bend the temperature rise arc.  Let’s advance the public policies which go hand-in-hand with energy efficiency technological improvements to achieve climate change mitigation solutions.



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