New framework from CREDS shows UK can halve its energy demand by 2050

27 June, 2022

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Our national modelling framework published in Nature Energy today shows that, in the UK, energy demand reduction is key to achieving net-zero by 2050 and requires positive social changes that will change the way we travel, consume, eat and how we heat our homes.

Our research published today in Nature Energy, provides a framework to understand how much energy demand reduction developed countries can achieve at a national level. Findings show that the UK can halve its energy demand by 2050. This world-first framework can be applied by other developed countries to explore their own energy demand reduction.

Current emissions pledges by developed countries continue to fall short of the 1.5 °C Paris Agreement target. A stronger focus on energy demand reduction in national mitigation plans would reduce this shortfall. The research shows that it will be difficult and expensive to meet net-zero targets without developed countries taking serious measures to reduce demand for energy.

John Barrett, who led the team of authors, said:

Reducing energy demand alongside the transformation of the energy system is the only viable pathway to achieve ambitious global climate targets. This was shown clearly in the latest IPCC report at the global level.

“Our paper, profiled today in Nature Energy, has calculated how a developed country, the UK, can rapidly reduce its energy demand without compromising the quality of life of citizens. It is important to recognise that both technological and broader societal changes are required to halve the UK’s energy demand.

The UK Government has yet to define how energy demand will contribute to achieving our climate ambitions and it is imperative that they outline a detailed strategy with supporting policies very soon. The CREDS framework also provides other developed countries with a method to use to explore their own national energy demand reduction approach.

Researchers devised four scenarios – ignore, steer, shift and transform demand – plausible futures based on social and technological changes. These are not predictions of the future, but they demonstrate what can be achieved with particular packages of policy, social trends and technological developments.

The research from CREDS outlines a vision of achievable positive low energy futures and makes clear recommendations for how to ensure energy demand reduction becomes a key contributor in achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

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