EESG David MacKay Memorial Lecture: The Importance of Energy Use in Mitigating Climate Change

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Current energy demand reduction policies in the UK are insufficient to meet the challenge of net-zero targets. Voluntary behaviour change is insufficient without sustainable infrastructure investment, regulation and economic incentives. Local institutions, governance and funding are not adequate to meet the required goals.

Changing energy use in these ways has benefits in cost and emissions savings, but also can contribute to warmer homes, improved air quality, more active lifestyles and better diets. However, care is needed to avoid potential problems, for example through poor ventilation and new forms of pollution. The zero-carbon energy transition will also need to be fair; currently, higher income groups use more energy, but low income households use a much higher proportion of their income on household energy, and this is being exacerbated by rising prices.

In this year’s David MacKay Memorial Lecture, Nick will share his views on how the UK final energy use could be halved by 2050, reducing UK per capita energy use to below the current global average. This involves reducing energy demand in all the main energy using sectors. Energy system electrification will greatly assist energy efficiency improvement, largely through the use of heat pumps and electric vehicles. Other systems of provision – notably transport, buildings, materials and food – also need to change towards lower energy intensity systems.

Nick Eyre
Director
Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions

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