As ACEEE celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, I am pleased to announce our new Call to Action to aggressively scale up energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. We need to put efficiency at the forefront of our efforts to build a vibrant and equitable economy that reduces energy waste, saves money, creates jobs, and helps those struggling most to pay their bills. And we need to do so quickly.
The climate crisis demands urgent and bold action. In addition to chairing ACEEE’s board, I am a parent to two young boys, and I am concerned about their future. Climate change threatens our global economy, our health and safety, and the ecosystems on which we depend. It disproportionately harms developing nations, low-income communities, and communities of color.
Energy efficiency can make a critical difference. It has a proven track record of slashing energy use and emissions while saving money. In fact, since ACEEE’s founding in 1980, efficiency has halved energy use relative to the size of the US economy, delivering more than $2,000 in annual savings per person. I am proud of the role that ACEEE, with its trusted, high-quality research and policy advocacy, has played in doubling energy productivity. It will continue to lead the way.
Today, ACEEE calls for an acceleration of energy-saving efforts. We need to mobilize at a pace and scale unlike we have seen before. Our research gives us the path forward. We have identified efficiency policies and programs that can halve energy use and emissions by 2050, getting us halfway to US climate goals. But to avoid the worst climate impacts, we need massive emission cuts this decade.
In our Call to Action, we commit to lead efforts and collaborate with partners to achieve six goals by 2030:
- Cut industrial GHG emissions by one-third, and ensure that half of industrial plants use strategic energy management.
- Hike fuel efficiency of new vehicles by at least 50%, achieve 20% sales penetration for electric vehicles, and cut passenger and freight vehicle miles by 10%.
- Double the rate of existing building retrofits and make at least one of every four new buildings zero net energy and carbon neutral.
- Deliver highly efficient cooling design and technologies for new and existing buildings.
- Use efficiency as a first-line resource for electric utilities to reach 50% carbon-free electricity in most states.
- Increase five-fold the investments in efficiency for low-income households to reach one-third of these households with comprehensive weatherization.
We know energy efficiency can get us halfway to US climate goals, but we cannot get there without robust investments in energy-efficient appliances, buildings, vehicles, transit, and industrial plants. ACEEE has created the Halfway There Fund to give us the flexibility to innovate, experiment, and fund the transformation needed for a clean energy future.
Quite simply, we are building a better world for our children and grandchildren. As we mark our 40th anniversary, please join us in celebrating energy efficiency’s accomplishments and work with us on the ambitious journey forward.
Penni McLean-Conner, chair of ACEEE’s board of directors, is senior vice president and chief customer officer at Eversource Energy.