Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
There are skeptics of energy efficiency who claim that, paradoxically, all the energy and money we have been saving due to energy efficiency, across all sectors of the economy, has actually caused us to increase our energy consumption. This “economy-wide rebound” theory is a startling, but ultimately unsupportable, theory that is plainly contradicted by the evidence. In a new article [PDF] published yesterday on ElectricityPolicy.com, my colleagues and I put this economy-wide rebound theory to the test: We measure it against the data. As my colleague David Goldstein shows, no scientifically testable version of the theory, including the economy-wide version, is supported by the evidence. Indeed, what emerges is the exact opposite: Energy efficiency results typically are understated by conventional accounting. Economies can, and do, reduce energy consumption as a portion of GDP.
Rebound theory claims that efficiency causes an economy to consume more energy. But more than what? In order to be scientifically testable, the theory must provide a baseline against which it can be tested. After searching f... Read more