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Reference: Fawcett, T, (2016-05-). Policy and extreme energy consumption.Citable link to this page:


Policy and extreme energy consumption

Abstract: Some UK households and individuals use vastly more energy than others. Nationally, reducing personal demand for energy is an important part of meeting the commitment to reduce carbon emissions. However, despite occasional attempts to identify and stigmatise particularly ‘excessive’ gadgets or activities, energy policy has not been framed around reducing excessive consumption. By bringing empirical evidence about variations in energy consumption together with the history of policy debate on limiting energy use, this paper considers whether concepts such as excessive or luxury consumption can form the basis for policy. An overview of empirical data, based on existing statistics and surveys, provides context. This shows that energy use in the home and for personal transport varies hugely between households and individuals in the UK, even within the same income decile. A brief historical survey, both in terms of averages and variation across the population, shows changing patterns of consumption, including recent reductions in residential energy demand. The evidence demonstrates that the difference in consumption between low and high energy using households is just over a factor of two, and that household energy consumption rises much less strongly with income, than, say, transport energy use. The history of UK policy engagement with limiting energy consumption is described, with most attention paid to residential energy use. Case studies of policy proposals to constrain high consumption illustrate how these ideas have been considered. Cases include rising block tariffs, standing charges and energy tariffs, and arguments about the proper basis for EU product energy labels and minimum standards (efficiency versus absolute consumption). These suggestions for policy re-orientation have not been adopted in the UK, where most current residential energy policy is based on efficiency. However, some elements of policy are based on consumption, and these are briefly described. In the discussion, these different types of evidence are brought together. Policy based on consumption could be designed in a number of different ways. It could focus on individuals and households, or on products and homes, or a combination of both. For households, policy could aim to reduce consumption across the whole population, or focus primarily on high consuming households. There are a number of reasons - from the pragmatic to the principled - for focusing on high consumption, but as yet little understanding of what this might mean in policy terms. Many interesting questions remain as to whether a focus on high consumption should have a place within residential energy policy.

Peer Review status:Peer reviewedPublication status:PublishedVersion:Accepted manuscript Funder: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council   Conference Details: DEMAND 2016: Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand Centre ConferenceNotes:Copyright held by the author. Paper prepared for DEMAND Centre Conference, Lancaster, 13-15 April 2016. The final version is available online from the DEMAND Centre at [http://www.demand.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/DEMAND2016_Full_paper_59-Fawcett.pdf]

Bibliographic Details

Publisher: DEMAND Centre

Publisher Website: http://www.demand.ac.uk/

Host: DEMAND 2016: Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand Centre Conferencesee more from them

Publication Website: http://www.demand.ac.uk/demand-conference-2016-papers/

Issue Date: 2016-05-Identifiers

Urn: uuid:89e0fe2a-b90f-4fb9-9847-94b2e30efd3b

Source identifier: 613927 Item Description

Type: Conference;

Version: Accepted manuscriptKeywords: energy policy excessive energy use sufficiency residential energy UK Tiny URL: pubs:613927


Author: Fawcett, T - institutionUniversity of Oxford Oxford, SSD, SOGE, Environmental Change Institute - - - - Bibliographic Details Publ

Source: https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:89e0fe2a-b90f-4fb9-9847-94b2e30efd3b


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