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energy efficiency

As a former U.S. energy secretary, UN ambassador and governor of New Mexico, WRI Board Member Bill Richardson has watched the debate over the Clean Power Plan with keen interest. Here he explains how this common-sense rule to cut dangerous air pollution can help U.S. states and the national economy, while putting the United States in a leadership position in dealing with the international issue of climate change.

WASHINGTON//LONDON (July 6, 2015)– A new report released by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate identifies ten key economic opportunities that could close up to 96 percent of the gap between business-as-usual emissions and the level needed to limit dangerous climate change. The report calls for stronger cooperation between governments, businesses, investors, cities and communities to drive economic growth in the emerging low-carbon economy.

Today at the U.S.-China Symposium on Energy Performance Contracting in Beijing, the Chinese and U.S. governments announced a new pilot program that could reduce Chinese buildings' energy use. The program seeks to build momentum for energy performance contracting (EPC), a renovation model where a building owner can work with a private company to install efficient technologies, and then use the cost savings from reduced energy consumption to pay for the efficiency upgrades. While EPCs are already used regularly in the United States, the pilot project will help expand the model in China as a way to curb emissions and save money.

Homes and commercial buildings account for 74 percent of electricity demand in the United States, making them a critical part of any plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The good news is that policies put into place over the last three decades—including appliance efficiency standards, voluntary labeling programs like ENERGY STAR, and state energy-savings targets—have already helped offset rising demand for electricity and saved consumers billions of dollars. New research shows that with the right policies in place, consumers and the environment can capture even greater benefits.

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