Grass at night with gold lights behind. Photo by Manos Gkikas on Unsplash

New research shows how ambitious energy efficiency targets could be applied to more sectors of the UK economy to accelerate energy independence and climate stability

23 November, 2022

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Launched today, our CREDS research findings report analyses the research we’ve undertaken over the past four and a half years.

Improving energy efficiency and reducing energy demand are key parts of the solution to the UK’s current energy affordability crisis. They are also integral to achieving longer term zero-carbon goals. CREDS’ new research findings report, launched today, confirms that the recent 2030 energy efficiency targets for buildings and industry – announced last week by the Chancellor – are feasible and desirable but calls for ambitious targets to be applied to transport energy use as well, and for longer term targets across the economy.

CREDS’ research shows that UK final energy use could be halved by 2050 whilst improving energy security, enhancing quality of life, and reducing the risks and costs associated with unproven technologies, such as carbon dioxide removal. Reducing energy demand is a critical part of the zero-carbon transition. Energy use reductions would be achieved through a combination of social changes – changes to the way we travel, consume products and heat our homes – and energy efficiency technologies. The research findings show that the reductions have the potential to improve quality of life by providing a multitude of co-benefits such as such as warm comfortable homes, healthy nutritious diets, accessible transport networks, flexible spaces to work and increased employment opportunities. CREDS’ analysis shows that the transport sector has the highest potential for demand reduction through shifts to more active travel and public transport use, combined with a move to electric vehicles.

To fully exploit the potential of energy demand reduction, the CREDS research findings report calls for strong energy demand reduction policies from government. Regulation, financial incentives, citizen engagement and direct investment in green infrastructure need to be used to create, enable and sustain the changes that deliver low-energy, zero-carbon options. Addressing the government’s reluctance to be perceived as reducing freedom of choice, the CREDS report shows that the policies needed are ones that enable better choices rather than leaving people locked into energy intensive lifestyles.  To unlock the potential of energy demand reduction in transport, the report calls for:

  • urban planning that encourages car-free living
  • improvements to public transport services
  • support for upfront costs of electric vehicles

Nick Eyre, Director of CREDS, says:

Increasingly people understand the need to move to a zero-carbon energy system. Addressing the ways we use energy will allow us to do this, whilst also having more comfortable homes, less congested towns and cities, cleaner air, better diets and more competitive businesses. Reducing energy demand is critical to addressing immediate affordability concerns. But it is more than a short term fix, it is also a central part of our climate mitigation effort. The Government has a critical role to play in leading this change.”

Banner photo credit: Manos Gkikas on Unsplash