Energy efficiency or conservation for mitigating climate change?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Given that global energy use today is still dominated by fossil fuels, there is an urgent need to rapidly reduce its use in order to avert serious climate change. However, the alternatives to fossil fuels—renewable and nuclear energy—are more expensive, and have so far done little to displace fossil fuels. Accordingly, reducing energy use must play an important part in both averting climate change and avoiding the depletion of high energy return easily recoverable fossil fuel reserves. This paper examined both the potential and barriers to the adoption of energy reduction measures, with particular attention to domestic energy and passenger transport. The main finding was that energy efficiency approaches alone are unlikely to deliver anywhere near the energy reductions needed in the limited time available. Instead, most energy reductions will have to come from energy conservation, involving less use of energy-using devices, including private vehicles. Achieving such reductions will require changes in lifestyles, especially for residents of OECD nations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3543
Number of pages17
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2019


  • Car travel
  • Climate change
  • Domestic energy
  • Energy conservation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Equity
  • Fuel prices

Cite this