Energy-efficiency programs are a kind of darling of energy policy experts. They claim to reduce carbon emissions and save money at the same time. Who could argue with that? And to date, market forces have identified plenty of attractive opportunities to reduce the amount of energy consumed per unit of GDP. That’s a big part of why energy demand growth has slowed in many developed markets.

But to reach global climate goals, most forecasters say we need to do much more than pick the low-hanging fruit. In fact, the International Energy Agency is betting on additional efficiency gains to account for one-third of needed carbon reductions through 2040. Yet, governments increasingly seem unwilling to place the same bets. In the U.S., governments and utilities spend just $3 billion annually on residential efficiency programs—a drop in the bucket compared with the $250 billion households spend on fuels like electricity and natural gas every year.

High expectations on the one hand, but few resources funneling into a limited number of programs on the other. Why the disconnect?

Here’s one possible answer: A mounting body of evidence suggests that many government-backed programs fail to deliver on the promise of a win-win—spelling big problems for efforts to confront climate change…

Continue reading at The Wall Street Journal…

Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
Definition
Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Energy Efficiency
Definition
Energy Efficiency
Improving energy efficiency is lauded as a promising way reduce emissions and lower energy costs. Yet, a robust body of research demonstrates that not all efficiency investments deliver. EPIC faculty...