Bold Energy Efficiency Program Would Save $1.3 Trillion

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A comprehensive new report released today by the national advocacy group Food & Water Watch in the United States demonstrates the immense role improved building energy efficiency standards can and must play in any effective climate change policy. The report focuses on what is by far the largest source of energy demand in the country, 40 percent, related to powering buildings – including homes, offices and schools. The analysis finds that a $500 billion investment over 15 years in improving building energy efficiency would net:

  • $1.3 trillion in savings on consumer utility bills;
  • 1.3 million jobs created annually – 20 percent more than current job creation rates;
  • a 36 percent decline in building energy use from current projected demand;
  • 300 million metric ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from current projections – the equivalent of emissions from nearly 80 coal-fired power plants.

Furthermore, the analysis shows that these efforts would completely eliminate the need to build any new fossil fuel power plants.

“With all the talk about a Green New Deal, one critical piece of any effective climate policy that has largely been left out of the conversation is energy efficiency. Improving building efficiency would net millions of good jobs and trillions of dollars in savings for families – it is the low-hanging fruit in terms of technological feasibility and cost-benefit gain,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), speaking about the report, said: “Energy efficiency has enormous potential to create millions of jobs, reduce carbon pollution, and save American families money on their energy bills – a real win-win-win. We must immediately come together to take bold action to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”

For decades, defense officials have noted the serious threat climate change poses to global stability and U.S. national security. Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s latest budget proposal seeks $750 billion for defense, more than 22 times the annual cost of the energy efficiency plan. Seizing on this, Ms. Hauter continued: “As our military leaders continue to cite climate change as a grave threat to national security, this smart investment in energy efficiency represents a drop in the bucket compared to current annual defense spending. Instead of needlessly building up the world’s largest military, we could be investing in our communities, creating good jobs, ensuring a fair and just transition to a clean energy future, and strengthening national security at the same time.”

Given the nature of the energy efficiency plan, a majority of jobs created would be high-quality construction and manufacturing jobs that can support families and provide for career development. These jobs would be concentrated in areas with the most energy-inefficient buildings — primarily older, draftier buildings in lower-income areas and communities of color. Recruiting and training the workforce from these communities to perform these upgrades would create a vital jobs program for fossil fuel employees and economically disadvantaged communities, and make great strides towards economic equality and a fair, just transition to a clean energy future in America.

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