SSRN Electronic Journal
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Energy-Efficient Technologies and Climate Change Policies: Issues and Evidence

Publication Date Jan 1, 1999

Abstract

Enhanced energy efficiency occupies a central role in evaluating the efficacy and cost of climate change policies. Ultimately, total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the product of population, economic activity per capita, energy use per unit of economic activity, and the carbon intensity of energy used. Although greenhouse gas emissions can be limited by reducing economic activity, this option obviously has little appeal even to rich countries, let alone poor ones. Much attention has therefore been placed on the role that technological improvements can play in reducing carbon emissions and in lowering the cost of those reductions. In addition, the influence of technological changes on the emission, concentration, and cost of reducing GHGs will tend to overwhelm other factors, especially in the longer term. Understanding the process of technological change is therefore of utmost importance. Nonetheless, the task of measuring, modeling, and ultimately influencing the path of technological development is fraught with complexity and uncertainty?as are the technologies themselves. Although there is little debate over the importance of energy efficiency in limiting GHG emissions, there is intense debate about its cost-effectiveness and about the government policies that should be pursued to enhance energy efficiency. At the risk of excessive simplification, we can characterize "technologists" as believing that there are plentiful opportunities for low-cost, or even "negative-cost" improvements in energy efficiency, and that rea...

Concepts

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Enhance Energy Efficiency Improvements In Energy Efficiency Carbon Intensity Of Energy Market Barriers Importance Of Energy Efficiency Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions Free Lunch Energy Efficiency Greenhouse Gas

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