Earth Day 2021: Energy Efficiency is the Movement of the Moment | Alliance to Save Energy

Earth Day 2021: Energy Efficiency is the Movement of the Moment

Let's Save Energy

Alliance to Save Energy's Blog

04/22/21 / MJ Boyd, Ellie Long

Earth Day 2021: Energy Efficiency is the Movement of the Moment

Earth Day energy efficiency.

The energy efficiency movement has come a long way since the first Earth Day back in 1970. Just several years after energy and environmental action went mainstream, the Alliance to Save Energy, a bipartisan brainchild of two senators, emerged as the leading national voice for energy efficiency policy, and since this initial wave of action the movement has expanded across government, corporate, and consumer interests. On this 51st Earth Day, let’s reflect on how far we’ve come and look forward to some of the key wins this year could bring.

Looking back

Through policy wins, technology advancements, and growing awareness of how cleaner, more productive use of energy improves quality of life, the U.S. has seen efficiency expand across the economy over the past decades. Without the efficiency improvements made since 1980, U.S. energy use and emissions would be around 60% higher. For context, you could take every car off the road in the U.S., ChinaBrazilJapan, and Mexico today and there would still be more greenhouse gases in our atmosphere than without our efficiency progress. And what makes efficiency unique as a climate solution is that every ounce of carbon emissions saved through efficiency translates into money saved – because it’s about energy that never had to be used in the first place. Since 1980, efficiency has saved consumers and businesses trillions on energy costs and approximately $800 billion per year currently.

A turning point

But we need to go further and the past few years have marked a turning point. The federal government and corporations are listening to and acting on calls for massive change to our energy system to address the threat of climate change and make the energy economy work better for everyone. In the private sector, just look at General Motors, the U.S.’ largest automaker, which aims to produce only electric vehicles by 2035. And in the public sector, the Biden administration today announced a target of reducing greenhouse gases 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. The administration has also acknowledged that too often in the past, the energy economy has left many behind, and has committed through its Justice40 Initiative to delivering 40% of the benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities.

So this is an Earth Day like no other, and not just because it’s the second Earth Day since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning most Earth Day events will be held virtually. The global pandemic has been a catalyst for change, and with so many families and workers still facing the past year’s health and economic fallout, there is a universally recognized need to build back brighter. A report from E2 released last week confirmed that energy efficiency was the hardest hit clean energy sector of 2020, losing nearly 300,000 jobs by the end of the year due to the often in-person, capital intensive nature of the work. It’s time for policies that will get these workers and others back on the job. This year’s Earth Day theme, Restore Our Earth, succinctly encapsulates the need to heal our communities and our environment to effectively build a more sustainable future.

Energy efficiency is the smartest comprehensive solution to these pressing issues. Efficiency improvements alone can reduce greenhouse gases 50% by 2050. And the policies we can implement to achieve this climate action are also enormous job creators; for example, simply modernizing tax incentives that encourage efficiency improvements in homes and buildings could create nearly 600,000 jobs and save $53.3 billion on energy costs – all while avoiding 340 million Mt of CO2. In fact, our proposal for modernizing these incentives was found to be one of the top 10 most effective climate and job creating policies by the CLEEN Project. This is just one example of the efficiency solutions we have at hand today that can help us build a brighter energy future.

Today, we’ll be tuning into the Biden Climate Summit to hear world leaders discuss our next steps in addressing the climate crisis. Biden has already announced the new Nationally Determined Contribution for the U.S. under the Paris Agreement, and will outline additional plans for mobilizing the public and private sectors to transition to a clean energy economy. The Alliance knows that energy efficiency is the first solution to meeting these ambitious targets for the environment and the economy. Stay tuned for more information throughout this exciting week of climate news!




Help the Alliance advocate for policies to use energy more efficiently – supporting job creation, reduced emissions, and lower costs. Contact your member of Congress.


Energy efficiency is smart, nonpartisan, and practical. So are we. Our strength comes from an unparalleled group of Alliance Associates working collaboratively under the Alliance umbrella to pave the way for energy efficiency gains.


The power of efficiency is in your hands. Supporting the Alliance means supporting a vision for using energy more productively to achieve economic growth, a cleaner environment, and greater energy security, affordability, and reliability.