While large, obviously impactful changes in energy consumption will determine whether the international community reaches its lofty climate change goals or not, it is a situation in which the classic saying “a little bit goes a long way” still applies. In this case, we’re talking about how energy efficiency can support the broader, harder-to-reach goals.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a report that outlines the measures that could help drastically reduce energy waste by 50% by 2050.
In particular, the report specifically explains how energy efficiency measures can get us there:
It identifies ambitious but cost-effective and technically possible measures that would avert emissions of nearly 2,500 million metric tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide — equivalent to all emissions from cars, trucks, homes, and commercial buildings in 2050.”
The alarm has been sounded already when it comes to the importance of cutting greenhouse gas admissions not only in the United States, but across the globe. Month after month, high-temperature records are broken in all parts of the world. Destructive storms are growing more powerful and more unpredictable. Droughts and famine are lasting longer, seriously risking critical food supplies. It has been agreed upon within the scientific community that the root of these escalations is the amount of carbon dioxide continuously entering the atmosphere.
Previously, organizations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have released reports that propose measures to help achieve our goals—real, applicable measures.
The report by the ACEEE goes one step further by focusing solely on how energy efficiency can mitigate the need for life/economy-disrupting changes (such as immediately shutting down all fossil fuel plants).
In the the ACEEE’s report, titled Halfway There: Energy Efficiency Can Cut Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Half by 2050, they target 11 opportunities where energy efficiency can make the greatest impact.
These 11 opportunities are:
- Industrial efficiency
- Light- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel economy
- Zero-energy buildings and homes
- Appliance and equipment efficiency
- Home and building retrofits
- Smart buildings and homes
- Passenger vehicle miles traveled
- Aviation efficiency
- Freight transport
- Electrification of space and water heating
- Electric distribution system
According to the ACEEE, the reason these were chosen as the best opportunities was because they are the most easily adoptable. Even if the government doesn’t take a bolder approach to combating climate change, industries and individual companies can incorporate most energy efficiency measures at their level.
“The good news is that we can start right now by investing more in energy-efficient appliances, buildings, vehicles, and industrial plants,” says Lowell Ungar, ACEEE senior policy advisor and report co-author. “But to achieve maximum emissions reductions, we need political and financial investments that go far beyond business as usual. If we do so, the 2050 payoff will be impressive.”
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