Cut Greenhouse Emissions, Save Money

It is taken as a given in the climate debate that reducing greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to reduce climate impacts will come at significant economic costs. This seems to me like a reasonable assertion.

There is an argument, however, that efficiencies could reduce greenhouse emissions and save money. That’s the case laid out in what looks like an entirely anecdotal report (but with a lot of anecdotes) by The Climate Group. They list a long series of examples of institutions, both corporate and government, that have enjoyed substantial savings by making their operations more efficient, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

Some of their examples:

Savings by Governments:

Berlin reduced emissions 15% from 1990 to 2000 through energy efficiency, use of combined heat and power and solar energy programs, with a municipal budget relief of ?2 million per year.

The UK Action Energy Program stimulated savings of ?650 million a year between 1989 and 2001 while reducing emissions.

Germany?s promotion of renewable energy and improved efficiency has led to the creation of more than 450,000 new jobs, undermining the oft-repeated claims that a strong climate policy is bad for business.

Savings by Companies:

Five companies have achieved reductions of 60% or more (DuPont, Alcan, British Telecom (BT), IBM, and NorskeCanada), with combined savings of over US $5.5 billion resulting from improved energy efficiency, fuel switching, and reduced waste.

DuPont has saved over $2 billion through increased energy efficiency, and has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 69% on 1990 levels.

British Telecom ? BT ? has reduced its emissions by over 80% below 1991 levels and has recently committed to cutting another 325,000 tonnes of its indirect CO2 emissions by making the largest ever single purchase of green energy.

I have a hard enough time getting my hands around the uncertainties in the climate science without trying to tackle the clearly far large uncertainties in the economic analysis of the climate issue. That’s why, while you see me blathering on endlessly about the science here, you dont see me talking about Kyoto and societal response measures. So I’m not entirely sure what to make of this. It’s clearly an activist group doing the analysis, so the data should be viewed with caution, but it is at least an interesting point in the debate.