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Much broader than health: Surveying the diverse co-benefits of energy demand reduction in Europe

20 December, 2022

Much broader than health: Surveying the diverse co-benefits of energy demand reduction in Europe

Paul Brockway

Research paper   Materials & Products

Owen Finn and Paul Brockway

Abstract

Demand-side energy reduction measures that aim to reduce energy usage are an effective tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of a net zero emissions push in Europe. However, often barriers within policymaking hinder deployment. Co-benefits – the secondary benefits of climate change mitigation action – offer an opportunity to reframe energy reduction as financially advantageous and also address a wide range of other policy goals. In support, we survey the type, frequency, and scale of energy demand reduction (EDR) co-benefits in Europe, and assess how these co-benefits can be accounted for in future EDR policymaking.

We conduct a review of co-benefits associated with EDR literature. From 53 selected papers, 86 unique co-benefits are identified across five different categories: Health, Energy Security, Economy, Social, and Environment. Economic co-benefits represent the highest proportion. Health/environmental impacts of air quality are the most cited individual co-benefit. While quantification methodology is discussed frequently, only a fifth of the papers attempt primary quantification of energy reduction co-benefits, with most of those concerned only with air quality. Lastly, a matrix framework is developed that conveys quantifiability and required timescales for key individual co-benefits.

We propose a four-step plan for improving the use of co-benefits, deepening the evidence base to improve climate change mitigation policy: (1) Work on standardisation of co-benefit terms to aid understanding and quantification, (2) Greater focus on cross-disciplinary co-benefit research to avoid research siloes, (3) Greater research on primary quantification of EDR co-benefits to establish functional methodologies and raise awareness of policymakers, and (4) Given high barriers to entry on co-benefits, greater efforts are needed to take co-benefits to policy-makers.

Publication details

Finn, O. and Brockway, P.E. 2022. Much broader than health: Surveying the diverse co-benefits of energy demand reduction in Europe. Energy Research & Social Science, 95: 102890. doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2022.102890Opens in a new tab 

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