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Emissions savings from equitable energy demand reduction

17 July, 2023

Emissions savings from equitable energy demand reduction

Milena Büchs

Noel Cass

Caroline Mullen

Karen Lucas

Diana Ivanova

Research paper   Transport & Mobility

Milena Büchs, Noel Cass, Caroline Mullen, Karen Lucas & Diana Ivanova


Energy demand reduction (EDR) will be required to reach climate targets in the Global North. To be compatible with just transitions principles, EDR needs to be equitable. Equitable EDR may involve targeting high energy users while ensuring the satisfaction of needs for all, which could require increasing consumption of low users. Emissions impacts of equitable EDR approaches have not yet been assessed. This Article finds that capping energy use of the top quintile of consumers across 27 European countries can achieve considerable greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 11.4% from domestic energy, 16.8% from transport and 9.7% from total energy consumption. Increasing consumption of low energy users in poverty reduces these savings by only 1.2, 0.9 and 1.4 percentage points, respectively. Additional high annual emissions cuts of 7.3–24.0% would be required for Europe to meet globally equitable 2050 emissions budgets. Equitable EDR could make an important contribution to increasing public acceptance of such transformative action.

Publication details

Büchs, M., Cass, N., Mullen, C., Lucas, K. and Ivanova, D. 2023. Emissions savings from equitable energy demand reduction. Nature Energy, 8: 758–769. doi: 10.1038/s41560-023-01283-yOpens in a new tabOpen access

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