[Documents menu] Documents menu

Date: Sat, 5 Sep 98 13:51:52 CDT
From: Mark Graffis <ab758@virgin.usvi.net>
Subject: Energy efficiency could backfire
Article: 42582
To: undisclosed-recipients:;;@chumbly.math.missouri.edu
Message-ID: <bulk.28091.19980906181543@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Energy efficiency could backfire

From Environmental News Network, Friday 4 September 1998

On a macro economic scale, Horace Herring argues that low energy prices will stimulate economic activity, pushing up energy demand. Pundits of climate change policy have long said that the use of energy efficient products is a means to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

However, in a move that breaks rank with environmentalists, a leading green analyst says that energy conservation policies could lead to such inexpensive energy that fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions will actually rise.

Horace Herring, who has spent the last 10 years researching energy efficiency at the Energy and Environment Research Unit of Britain’s Open University, says that energy efficiency will not save energy, according to a report in the Sept. 5 edition of the New Scientist.

The idea that energy efficiency will help nations reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and subsequently reach the goals of the Kyoto climate treaty has been adopted by European governments.

Herring argues that while energy efficiency will reduce the energy consumed for a particular task, it will be undermined, in effect, by human nature.

For example, Herring says that if loft insulation lowers heating bills, homeowners will be enticed to crank up the heat and relish in the added comfort, or they may purchase other energy using products such as a dishwasher.

On a macro economic scale, Herring argues that low energy prices will stimulate economic activity, pushing up energy demand.

Energy conservation lowers the real price of energy and thus induces an energy demand expansion, the New Scientist quotes David Pearce, Britain’s leading environmental economist, as saying.

The New Scientist says that as governments strive to meet their targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto climate treaty, the truth of Herring’s claims will become evident.

While Herring’s theory, which is backed by people like Lester Brown, director of Worldwatch Institute, may not be what environmentalists want to hear, Herring still is an advocate for energy efficiency.

His recipe for cutting emissions of CO2 is the less politically palatable route of carbon taxes and regulation of the energy industry, reports the New Scientist.