How to Make Money Saving The World.
Let’s start this week with some good news about climate change. All across America, companies have made great strides saving energy consumption and CO2 emissions profitably.
Consider these impressive efforts from some of our country’s largest companies: Dow Chemical invested nearly $1 billion in energy conservation from 1994–2011 and saved more than 10 billion.[i] IBM has cut its CO2 emissions 6% a year, fattening its bottom line.[ii] DuPont slashed its global energy use 21% while boosting production a whopping 47%, earning $3 billion.[iii] GE’s 2,000+ energy-saving projects saved $400 million.[iv]
Our energy-saving progress doesn’t end with corporations. Buildings account for 405 of US emissions, and their owners are saving money by reducing energy use and emissions. The Empire State Building’s 38% of energy savings investment paid back in just three years.[v] Denver’s Federal Center, with help from The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), slashed energy consumption by 70%.[vi] RMI’s own building at 6500 feet needs no furnaces, boilers or chillers.[vii] Pacific Gas and Electric designed a tract house to use 82% less energy at less cost.[viii] Even when it’s 113 degrees out, it requires zero air conditioning.
Yet for all this success, we aren’t moving nearly fast enough to avoid way overshooting the 2 degrees Celsius temperature increase that scientists warn about. But putting a price on carbon can stop this runaway train.
A price on carbon would reward efforts to save energy, switch to clean energy and accelerate new technologies. It would create the market demand for scientists and entrepreneurs to explore carbon capture from smokestacks and even direct carbon capture from the air. The right carbon price isn’t zero- that’s no financial incentive to protect the planet. Right now, there is little financial incentive to save the world.
The technology we need to avoid the worst climate change is already taking shape in America and around the world. A price on carbon is the best way to help it happen in time. Stay tuned for more at pricecarbon.org.
[i] Savings figure cited in 2011 Sustainability Report. Investment figure, as well as checking and updating figures, from Mark Weick, Dow Chemical Lead Director, Sustainability and Enterprise Risk Management, personal communications, July 5 and 8, 2016.
[iii]Bill Bailey, PowerPoint presentation, “Sustainable Growth and Energy Efficiency in DuPont,” 2010
[v]Rocky Mountain Institute, “Empire Building Case Study”
[vi] Rocky Mountain Institute, “Byron G. Rogers Federal Office Building Case Study,” 2013
[vii] Rocky Mountain Institute, Innovation Center
[viii] Amory Lovins, “The Super-Efficient Passive Building Frontier,” ASHRAE Journal. June, 1995.