“Low-Hanging Fruit” Out Of Greens’ Reach

  • Date: 19/01/13
  • Walter Russell Mead, Via Meadia

Energy efficiency is one of the only politically feasible approaches to climate and energy policy that benefits both consumers and the environment. If the greens can’t get this one right, the rest is destined for failure.

Forget about global carbon treaties; greens can’t even manage to pick the “low-hanging fruit.” While alternative energy is a kind of holy grail, reaping savings from energy efficiency is supposed to be relatively easy. In 2011 the Obama administration spent $4 billion on the construction of energy efficient buildings to “create tens of thousands of jobs and save billions.” If the EU’s attempt at the same project is any indication, the investment isn’t likely to pan out. An alert reader drew our attention to this BBC report:

An audit has found that EU-funded energy efficiency projects are not cost-effective in EU member states.

The projects examined by the Court of Auditors were in the Czech Republic, Italy and Lithuania. Those countries received the most EU funding for such projects in 2007-2013.

National authorities used the funds to refurbish buildings, but the spending would not be recouped for 50 years on average, the report said.

That time scale was “far too long”.

In some cases the savings would not appear for up to 150 years. Such a delay would go beyond the expected lifetime of the buildings concerned.

Energy efficiency is one of the only politically feasible approaches to climate and energy policy that benefits both consumers and the environment. If the greens can’t get this one right, the rest is destined for failure.

Throwing money at ill-conceived green energy projects isn’t working. That’s not a call for throwing more money at more of the same projects; it’s a wakeup call for a different policy strategy.

Via Meadia, 18 January 2013