European energy policy has not faced up to something about which there is increasingly little doubt: global reduction, or even stabilisation in energy use will not be achieved unless Europe and the other rich OECD countries aim at significantly curbing their energy services (heat, light, motive power, mobility and so on). The policy makers at the centre of the policy discourse on energy sustainability suffer from a form for self-deception which revolves around the equation of ‘efficiency’ with ‘reduction’ and ‘sustainability’, i.e., the untenable contention that technological and market efficiency alone will offset continued growth in energy services to the extent that deep reductions in energy use are possible. Many researchers and environmentalists seem to have, partly for strategic reasons, adapted to this view and thereby supported politicians in the self-deception. In this paper we use results from India and China, with more than one third of the world population, to show how there is likely to be dramatic increases in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in those countries over the next half-century. Much of this increase will be in conjunction with the development of basic services and infrastructure for homes, businesses, transport, health and public services, so that it is neither ethical nor even practical to argue for restrictions in overall energy growth in these and other developing countries. This places the onus for deep reductions in energy use on Europe, North America and the other affluent countries. The paper explores what such a change of focus would mean for policy and research agendas, and why there is friction to moving the policy envelope from ‘efficiency’ to also include ‘sufficiency’.
Energy and Environment, 2004, Vol 15, Issue 6, p. 991-1010
Global energy strategy; Energy efficiency; Policy paradigm; Energy reduction; Energy services