Energy Conservation in the United States: Understanding its Role in Climate Policy

41 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2006 Last revised: 1 Nov 2014

See all articles by Gilbert E. Metcalf

Gilbert E. Metcalf

Tufts University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2006

Abstract

Efforts to reduce carbon emissions significantly will require considerable improvements in energy intensity, the ratio of energy consumption to economic activity. Improvements in energy intensity over the past thirty years suggest great possibilities for energy conservation: current annual energy consumption avoided due to declines in energy intensity since 1970 substantially exceed current annual domestic energy supply. While historic improvements in energy intensity suggest great scope for energy conservation in the future, I argue that optimistic estimates of avoided energy costs due to energy conservation are likely biased downward. I then analyze a data set on energy intensity in the United States at the state level between 1970 and 2001 to disentangle the key elements of energy efficiency and economic activity that drive changes in energy intensity.

Suggested Citation

Metcalf, Gilbert E., Energy Conservation in the United States: Understanding its Role in Climate Policy (June 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12272. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=906750

Gilbert E. Metcalf (Contact Author)

Tufts University - Department of Economics ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States
617-627-3685 (Phone)
617-627-3917 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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