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New Thinking on the Demand for Energy

Current thinking on energy is focused on supply rather than demand. This is misplaced according to Julian Allwood, Professor of Engineering and the Environment at Cambridge. 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.

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.

In November 2015 academics from different disciplines across the humanities and social scientists responded to Professor Allwood’s challenge to draw on their own research and expertise to explore and analyse strategies for demand reduction in relation to climate change.

The report summaries each of the contributions to provide new thinking on demand for energy. Do we need more politics around climate change? Should we reduce demand for meat? Should we charge differently for energy use? What role do beliefs play in our demand for energy?

These and other suggestions are examined in this introduction to new thinking on the problem of rising demand for energy.



Slides from the session can be downloaded here:

Demand Reduction: An engineering necessity, and a trans-disciplinary voyage (Julian Allwood)

Reducing Demand for Meat Lessons from Tobacco, Alcohol and Sugar? (Professor Theresa Marteau)

Demand reduction for climate change policy: some dietary implications (Pablo Monsivais)

Economics of Energy Demand Reduction (Hamish Low)

Photo: Agustín Ruiz via Creative Commons.

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About Us

We aim to support public policy research across Cambridge University, working with colleagues in science, social science, the arts and humanities, to apply new thinking to public policy problems and promote research and analysis into the public policy process. We hope to connect and raise the profile of existing public policy related work across the University and support collaborative research that includes policy development in a range of subject areas. 

Contact us if you are interested in joining the initiative or would like to know more.