, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 236–248 | Cite as

Profitable Solutions to Climate, Oil, and Proliferation

  • Amory B. Lovins


Protecting the climate is not costly but profitable (even if avoided climate change is worth zero), mainly because saving fuel costs less than buying fuel. The two biggest opportunities, both sufficiently fast, are oil and electricity. The US, for example, can eliminate its oil use by the 2040s at an average cost of $15 per barrel (2000$), half by redoubled efficiency and half by alternative supplies, and can save three-fourths of its electricity more cheaply than operating a thermal power station. Integrative design permits this by making big energy savings cheaper than small ones, turning traditionally assumed diminishing returns into empirically observed expanding returns. Such efficiency choices accelerate climate-safe, inexhaustible, and resilient energy supply—notably the “micropower” now delivering about a sixth of the world’s electricity and 90% of its new electricity. These cheap, fast, market-financeable, globally applicable options offer the most effective, yet most underestimated and overlooked, solutions for climate, proliferation, and poverty.


Energy Climate Oil Proliferation Efficiency Renewables Integrative design 


  1. Alliance to Save Energy. 2009. France’s ‘Bonus-Malus’ Feebate Program.
  2. Bodlund, B., E. Mills, T. Karlsson, and T.B. Johansson. 1989. The challenge of choices: Technology options for the Swedish electricity sector. In Electricity, ed. T.B. Johansson, B. Bodlund, and R.H. Williams, 883–947. Lund: Lund University Press.
  3. Buhayar, N. 2009. Old wine, new bottles. Wall Street Journal 21 September.
  4. Cambridge Energy Research Associates. 2009. Peak oil demand in the developed world: It’s here, 29 September.
  5. Competitek. 1986–1992. The state of the art series (6 vols., 2509 pp., 5135 notes). Snowmass, CO: Rocky Mountain Institute.Google Scholar
  6. Feist, W. 1987. Electricity saving potential in the private households in the Federal Republic of Germany (Stromsparpotentiale bei den privaten Haushalten in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, in German). Darmstadt: Institut Wohnen und Umwelt.Google Scholar
  7. Fickett, A.P., C.W. Gellings, and A.B. Lovins. 1990. Efficient use of electricity. Scientific American 263(3): 64–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gadgil, A., A.H. Rosenfeld, D. Arasteh, and E. Ward. 1991. Advanced lighting and window technologies for reducing electricity consumption and peak demand: overseas manufacturing and marketing opportunities. LBL-30389 Revised. Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.Google Scholar
  9. Global Subsidies Initiative. 2009. Policy brief, ‘Achieving the G-20 call to phase out subsidies to fossil fuels,’ October.
  10. Gold, R., and A. Campoy. 2009. Oil industry braces for drop in US thirst for gasoline. Wall Street Journal p. A1, 13 April.
  11. Larsson, H. 1979. Wood through the ages: From Cronstedt’s stove to Hugo’s stove (Vedeldning genom tiderna: från Cronstedts kakelugn till Hugos Kamin). THE-rapport 5, Tekniska Högskolornas Energiarbetsgrupp (Stockholm) (in Swedish).Google Scholar
  12. Lovins, A.B. 1995. The super-efficient passive building frontier, summary of Centenary Speech to American Society of Space-Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. ASHRAE Journal, 79–81. URL:
  13. Lovins, A.B. 2003. Twenty hydrogen myths.
  14. Lovins, A.B. 2004. Rocky Mountain Institute visitors’ guide. RMI Publ. #H04-03,
  15. Lovins, A.B. 2005a. More profit with less carbon. Scientific American 293(III): 74–82. URL:
  16. Lovins, A.B. 2005b. Energy end-use efficiency. White paper commissioned by S. Chu for InterAcademy Council (Amsterdam).
  17. Lovins, A.B. 2007. Advanced energy efficiency. MAP/Ming Lectures, School of Engineering, Stanford University.
  18. Lovins, A.B. 2008a. Getting off oil: Recent leaps and next steps. Solutions Journal, pp. 3ff, Snowmass, CO: Rocky Mountain Institute.
  19. Lovins, A.B. 2008b. Advanced energy efficiency for buildings. Singapore Government lecture.
  20. Lovins, A.B. 2009. Four nuclear myths.
  21. Lovins, A.B. 2010a. DOD’s energy challenge creates strategic opportunity. Joint Force Quarterly 57: 33–42 (2Q2010). URL:
  22. Lovins, A.B. 2010b. The nuclear illusion. AMBIO (in press).Google Scholar
  23. Lovins, A.B. 2010c. On proliferation, oil, and climate: Solving for pattern. Foreign Policy. 21 January.
  24. Lovins, A.B., and D.R. Cramer. 2004. Hypercars, hydrogen, and the automotive transition. International Journal of Vehicle Design 35(1/2): 50– Scholar
  25. Lovins, A.B., E.K. Datta, O.-E. Bustnes, J.G. Koomey, and N.J. Glasgow. 2004. Winning the oil endgame, 329 pp. Snowmass, CO: Rocky Mountain
  26. Lovins, A.B., E.K. Datta, T. Feiler, K.R. Rábago, J.N. Swisher, A. Lehmann, and K. Wicker. 2002. Small is profitable: The hidden economic benefits of making electrical resources the right size, 424 pp. Snowmass, CO: Rocky Mountain
  27. Lovins, A.B., and L.H. Lovins. 1981/1982. Brittle power: Energy strategy for national security, 499 pp. Andover, MA: DOD/CEQ/Brick House.Google Scholar
  28. Lovins, A.B., and L.H. Lovins. 1991. Least-cost climatic stabilization. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 16: 433–
  29. Lovins, A.B., and L.H. Lovins. 1997. Climate: Making sense and making money. Snowmass, CO: Rocky Mountain Institute. 42 pp.Google Scholar
  30. Lovins, A.B., L.H. Lovins, and L. Ross. 1980a. Nuclear power and nuclear bombs. Foreign Affairs 58: 1137–1177 (Summer 1980). Scholar
  31. Lovins, A.B., L.H. Lovins, and L. Ross. 1980b. Nuclear power and nuclear bombs. Foreign Affairs 59: 172.Google Scholar
  32. Lovins, A.B., J. Neymark, T. Flanigan, P.B. Kiernan, B. Bancroft, and M. Shepard. 1989. The state of the art: Drivepower, 439 pp. Snowmass, CO: Competitek, Rocky Mountain Institute.Google Scholar
  33. Lovins, A.B., I. Sheikh, and A. Markovich. 2008. Nuclear power: Climate fix or folly? Snowmass, CO: Rocky Mountain
  34. McKinsey&Company. 2009. Pathways to a low-carbon economy.
  35. Mims, N., and H. Hauenstein. 2008. Feebates: A legislative option to encourage continuous improvements to automobile efficiency. Snowmass, CO: Rocky Mountain Institute. Publ. #T08-09.
  36. National Institute for Environmental Studies. 2009. Webpage “Japan Low Carbon Society Scenarios toward 2050.”
  37. National Research Council. 2009. America’s energy future, 711 pp.
  38. Nørgård, J.S. 1979. Households and energy (Husholdninger og Energi, in Danish). Copenhagen: Polyteknisk Forlag, 389 pp.Google Scholar
  39. Ogburn, M., L. Ramroth, and A.B. Lovins. 2008. Transformational trucks: Determining the energy efficiency limits of a class-8 tractor trailer. Snowmass, CO: Rocky Mountain Institute. Publ. #T08-08,
  40. Olivier, D., and H. Miall. 1983. Energy-efficient futures: Opening the solar option, 341. London: Earth Resources Research Ltd.Google Scholar
  41. Regulatory Assistance Project. 2009. Decoupling/financial incentives.
  42. Sankey, P., S. Micheloto and D.T. Clark. 2009. The peak oil market. Deutsche Bank Global Markets Research, 4 October.
  43. Seligsohn, D. 2009. China 1000 enterprise energy conservation program beats target., 7 December.
  44. Sheikh, I. and A.B. Lovins. 2008. Wanted: Masters of elegant frugality. Chemical Engineering Progress 60, September.
  45. Smeds, J. 2004. Energy aspects in Swedish Building Legislation of the 20th century concerning dwellings. Division of Energy and Building Design, Lund Institute of Technology, 2004-05-10.
  46. US Defense Science Board. 2008. More fightless fuel.
  47. Wikipedia. Carl Johan Cronstedt.

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rocky Mountain InstituteSnowmassUSA

Personalised recommendations