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U.S. Should Match Japanese in Better Fuel Efficiency, Institute Warns

March 27, 1988|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The United States could cut $200 billion from its annual fuel bill if American industries, buildings and transportation were as energy efficient as Japan's, a Worldwatch Institute study said on Saturday.

Discussing building insulation, the research group said: "As much energy leaks through American windows every year as flows through the Alaskan pipeline."

"Nations that want to compete effectively in international markets have no choice but to raise their energy efficiency to at least the Japanese level," Worldwatch said.

Christopher Flavin and Alan Durning, authors of the study, said that for 1986, the most recent years for which figures were available, "the United States used 10% of its gross national product to pay the national fuel bill, but Japan used only 4%."

Multiple Benefits

They said efficiency could also reduce oil imports, limit air pollution, control acid rain and head off a global warming trend from the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide.

Flavin and Durning, Worldwatch staff energy specialists, said energy efficiency has improved 15% to 20% since the 1973 Arab oil embargo, but now with cheaper oil, conservation is slackening and efficiency improvements slowing.

They said the embargo helped to spur car efficiency and that has saved enough oil to help trigger the current oil glut. It also prompted appliance efficiency that will save utilities from building 22 new power plants by the year 2000.

The authors said, however, that the United States and some other countries were not capitalizing on efficiency research and development.

'Still Waste Billions'

Flavin and Durning said the world had entered an age of energy efficiency, "but societies still waste billions of dollars on power plants and oil wells when efficiency costs only a fraction as much."

They said "energy efficiency is an essential ingredient of economic and ecological progress."

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