The Economist is bringing the traditional Oxford-style debate online and shining a light on energy, asking the question “Conservation or innovation?” The formal statement up for debate is this: “We can solve our energy problems with existing technologies today, without the need for breakthrough innovations.” I don’t think anyone would argue that we don’t need new innovations, but it’s important to consider how much of our efforts should go towards new R&D for clean power vs. implementing energy-efficiency standards that are already available.
The Economist asked me to submit an essay on my position, and I argued that while we need everything we can get to meet our greenhouse gas emissions goals, we need to invest a lot more than we have been into energy-efficiency programs.
Energy efficiency — often referred to as the low-hanging fruit of the power world — offers one of the cheapest and most valuable tools for remaking our energy landscape. But it is just one of the tools we need to meet very necessary, stringent carbon reduction goals.
Go to the Economist to check out my full comments, as well as the positions of the main debaters, Joseph Romm, Senior Fellow at the Centre for American Progress, and Peter Meisen, President, Global Energy Network Institute.