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Climate Change Policy - A Focus on Demand Reduction?

last modified Dec 02, 2015 11:37 AM
Eight distinguished Cambridge scholars from different disciplines offered perspectives from the past, present and future on the challenge of demand reduction in relation to energy. Further discussions and a report from the seminar are forthcoming.

New Thinking on Demand for Energy?

On 23rd November we held our demand reduction seminar, which explored the proposition that efforts to plan a response to climate change are largely stuck, having been driven by conventional economic thinking and over-stated engineering optimism about innovation. We have no evidence that we will be able to deliver today’s global energy demand by low-carbon means, and as yet all attempts to improve energy efficiency have been eclipsed by rebounds in demand, so that total energy requirements have increased. Reducing our demand for energy is essential to any serious efforts at mitigation, but is currently below the political and public horizon. It challenges widely held assumptions about economic growth and can be considered only if we activate the humanities and wider social sciences as a complement to engineering and economic thinking. 

Each of our distinguished speakers from: politics (Prof David Runciman), economics (Prof Hamish Low), health (Prof Theresa Marteau), diet (Dr Pablo Monsivais), history (Dr Paul Warde), philosophy (Prof Jane Heal) and theology (Dr Andrew Davison) gave a perspective on how we should think about demand reduction.

This was followed by an open discussion of the issues, which included: 're-shaping' rather than reducing demand; thinking about the alternative demand strategies; the nature of political choices; what alternative models can we draw on; anticipating what future shocks might be; how to frame desired choices and actions in relation to climate change. 

A report is being produced, which will be posted on this website, which draws on the presentations and discussion from the day and future actions for the group. 

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