Climate Bill Needs to Drive Investment in Energy Efficiency

by | Oct 28, 2009

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ClimateBillImpactsClimate legislation that encourages energy-saving investments will create millions of jobs, save U.S. consumers billions on monthly energy bills, and spur innovation, according to a report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The report also evaluates the long-term economic impacts of cap-and-trade legislation.

The report, Climate Change Policy as an Economic Redevelopment Opportunity: The Role of Productive Investments in Mitigating Greenhouse Gas Emissions, offers insights about climate legislation — for the House-passed energy and climate bill as well as two improved versions under consideration — just as the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), introduces her new climate bill and hosts a week of hearings.

The report shows how studies funded by opponents of cap-and-trade policies distort the long-term economic impacts of climate legislation because they assume climate legislation mandates are simply regulatory costs imposed on the economy and fail to account for the economic benefits of investments in energy efficiency, according to ACEEE.

According to the report, H.R. 2454, passed by the U.S. House in June, would stimulate investments that save energy and benefit the economy. Improvements to this bill that encourage greater levels of investments in energy efficiency could deliver net energy bill savings of $400 billion by 2030 and nearly $470 billion by 2050, while also generating more than 2 million additional jobs by 2050 (nearly double the jobs that would be created by H.R. 2454 as passed by the House of Representatives), according to the report.

The study also finds that even stronger provisions could deliver greater benefits, tripling potential consumer savings. As an example, the study cites that these and other economic gains could be achieved by directing just 3 percent of the total investment dollars in the U.S. economy to construction of factories, buildings, equipment, vehicles, appliances, and other investments that meet higher efficiency standards.

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