Colin Nolden, Nick Eyre, Tina Fawcett and Yekatherina Bobrova
Historically, energy demand reductions have been the main driver of carbon emission reductions. However, there is concern that this contribution is not recognised, and that policymaking attention remains focused on the supply side. The current and potential future role of demand in energy policymaking is explored via surveys of energy experts and stakeholders in the UK (n>77), the Netherlands (n>54) and Germany (n>80).
In all three countries, the respondents identify some current policy support on the demand side, especially in the context of retrofitting. On the whole, however, they suggest that decarbonisation policies mainly support technological substitution, infrastructure investment and vector switching on the supply side. This focus, to the detriment of funding/finance and changing practices, does not appear conducive to a just transition to net zero. To help energy policy contribute to such as transition, the respondents support the Energy Efficiency First principle which entails a better balance between supply and demand solutions. While German respondents have a strong preference for technological solutions, UK and Dutch respondents support more policymaking emphasis on the demand side, especially through changing practices such as a modal shift to active travel. Overall, German respondents appear broadly content with current policy, Dutch respondents have the greatest faith in policymakers, and UK respondents are neither content with current policy nor do they have faith in policymakers. Despite these discrepancies, trends among responses from all three countries suggest that energy and climate policy solutions appear more suitable for decarbonisation than ensuring justice and fairness of the underlying socio-technical transformation process. This suggests that both energy and non-energy policies need to be more closely aligned to gain more legitimacy and ultimately succeed in achieving net zero.
Nolden, C., Eyre, N., Fawcett, T. and Bobrova, Y. 2022. The role of energy demand in policymaking for a just transition to net zero: a comparative survey in the UK, the Netherlands and GermanyOpens in a new tab. In: Proceedings of eceee Summer Study 2022 – Policy, finance and governance.
Banner photo credit: Alireza Attari on Unsplash