Part of the reason that progress leading toward a binding international climate change agreement has been so halting is that President Obama has said that he will not commit the United States to emission reduction goals unless congress gives him a path by which those goals can be met.
Well, today, a new group launched that could be a big step toward helping the United States meet its international responsibilies on climate.
At the United States Capital a coalition of lawmakers, business leaders and NGOs brought together by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Energy Future Coalition* launched an initiative to promote the retrofitting for energy efficiency of 50 million residential and commercial buildings by 2020. The idea is to spur the domestic economy by having the government at the local and federal levels provide incentives and tax breaks for energy audits and retrofitting for homes and businesses. According to the group, called Rebuilding America, the plan would create over 600,000 good jobs in manufacturing and construction; would save households an average of $832 a year by 2030; and avoid 42 million tons of carbon emissions per year, the equivalent of taking 80 million cars off the road.Senator Jeff Merkeley of Oregon described this plan as a win-win-win for the jobs it can create, the money it can save homeowners and businesses and the step toward energy independence it achieves.
It seems that we have moved beyond the days when policy makers dismissed conservation efforts as matters of “personal virtue.” I would just add that for all the talk about new sources of energy and renewables, simple efforts toward increasing energy efficiency is a relatively easy way to reduce carbon outputs in the here and now. I’m interested to see how this plan progresses. You can read the full strategy paper here.
*The Energy Future Coalition is part of the UN Foundation family.