A summary of the role of energy efficiency in last night’s debate
UPDATE: Okay, to be completely fair, in response to the question about how the candidates would ask Americans to sacrifice, Obama said this:
But each and every one of us can start thinking about how can we save energy in our homes, in our buildings. And one of the things I want to do is make sure that we’re providing incentives so that you can buy a fuel efficient car that’s made right here in the United States of America, not in Japan or South Korea, making sure that you are able to weatherize your home or make your business more fuel efficient.
This is all right as far as it goes. At least it raises the notions of weatherization and fuel efficiency.
I worry, though, that in context the main effect was to reinforce two terrible frames: First, that efficiency is a sacrifice, and second, that it’s largely a matter of individual consumer choices. Nobody’s telling the public that efficiency is the primary means of fighting climate change in the short-term — more important than renewable energy sources, at least in the next decade or two. It should be the primary energy policy focus of the next administration. More on this in a minute.