Sunday 1 November, 3.45pm until 5.15pm, Lecture Theatre 1
Energy efficiency and energy saving play a big role in energy policy. Everything from loft insulation to public transport is used as a carrot to encourage us to use less energy and the UK’s energy minister claims that introducing smart meters ‘will empower all consumers to monitor their own energy use’. Meanwhile the ‘stick’ of taxes and rationing threaten in the background. Some campaigners go even further, telling us to cut out flying. Is this about helping consumers to make better choices, breaking our energy ‘addiction’ or is it a patronising and authoritarian intervention in individual choice?
Campaigners urge us to switch our lights off for Earth Hour, while arguments for building new plants are met with a cynicism about energy giants’ profits and cosy corporate relations with government. But when EDF’s ‘Save Today Save Tomorrow’ campaign urges individual consumers to reduce their consumption and British Gas sells energy-saving gadgets alongside power, it seems as if everyone is joining the energy-saving bandwagon. History shows that despite gains in efficiency, growing economies need a lot more energy. Today this point is made by emerging economies in favour of not signing up to stringent carbon-reduction agreements. But is it time to change the expectation that economic growth means more energy use? Proposals for a Green New Deal argue jobs and growth can be found through maximising efficiency, while some even argue that more provision merely encourages carefree, even luxuriant, energy use. Meanwhile, an energy crisis looms, only delayed by the recession itself.
As the developing world uses more energy, are we using more than our fair share? Does increasing energy use in China and India make personal sacrifice here irrelevant or does it make it more urgent? Is changing our energy lifestyles a necessity, unrealistic, or unacceptably authoritarian? And what about a future where we are not obsessed with reducing consumption?
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|Dr Brenda Boardman|
emeritus fellow, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford; author, Home Truths: a low-carbon strategy to reduce UK housing emissions by 80%
|Professor Jacquie Burgess|
professor of environmental risk and head of school, environmental sciences, University of East Anglia
energy consultant, Shell; lead consultant, Shell's World Energy Model
independent researcher, writer, and film-maker
professor of geophysics at UCL; director, UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction
communications consultant, researcher and blogger based in São Paulo
Our present approach to solving global warming will not work. It is flawed economically, politically and also technologically.Bjorn Lomborg, The Australian, 7 September 2009
The tragedy is that for seven years, politicians of all parties have refused to face up to Britain’s fast-looming energy gap because they have all been bewitched by the great ‘green dream’, that we could somehow save the planet by generating much of our electricity from ‘renewables’, such as building thousands more wind turbines.Christopher Booker, Daily Mail, 3 September 2009
Why is the 10:10 campaign, with its pledges to turn off lights and grow more veg, taken more seriously than geo-engineering?Brendan O'Neill, Guardian, 2 September 2009
A UK Royal Society study has concluded that many engineering proposals to reduce the impact of climate change arePallab Ghosh, BBC News, 1 September 2009
A nation that must drastically reduce its consumption of fossil fuels must be willing to gamble.Editorial, New York Times, 8 August 2009
James Woudhuysen and Joe Kaplinsky, Beautiful Books, 22 January 2009
The mad green war on light bulbs won’t save much electricity - it’s about enforcing moral rectitude in the home.James Woudhuysen, spiked, 13 January 2009
Environmentalists demand an impossibly high standard. Nothing the human race has ever done to improve its conditions has been ’sustainable’. As technologies have changed our lives, and created new problems, so too have new politics arisen out of these changing conditions.Ben Pile, Climate Resistance, 3 July 2008