Social efficiency in energy conservation

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Global energy use, fossil fuel carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise, despite some progress in mitigation efforts. Improving energy efficiency is seen as an important means of reducing emissions, but absolute reductions in global energy use remain elusive because of continued growth in the numbers of important energy-using devices such as transport vehicles, and energy rebound. Limiting the rise in average surface temperature above preindustrial to 2 °C is widely regarded as the limit for avoiding dangerous anthropogenic climate change. Given the magnitude of CO2 emission reductions necessary for this limit to be met, other approaches are needed for reducing energy use and its resultant emissions. This chapter discusses social efficiency (nontechnical means for reducing energy use) and stresses the social and environmental context in which energy consumption occurs in various sectors. Three important sectors for energy use, transport, buildings, and agriculture, are used to illustrate the potential for social efficiency in energy reductions. We argue that by focusing more clearly on the human needs energy use is meant to satisfy, it is possible to find new, less energy-intensive ways of meeting these needs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
EditorsWei-Yin Chen, Maximilian Lackner, Toshio Suzuki
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783319144092
ISBN (Print)9783319144085
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Access
  • Acclimatization
  • Agriculture
  • Australia
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Climate mitigation
  • Conflicting policies
  • Domestic energy consumption
  • Electricity use
  • Energy conservation
  • Energy efficiency
  • External costs
  • Food miles
  • Fossil fuel depletion
  • Freight transport
  • Gross national income (GNI)
  • Household size
  • Industrial agriculture
  • Japan
  • Journey to work
  • Karman-Gabrielli law
  • Multi-functionalism (agriculture)
  • National statistical data
  • Organisation for economic co-operation and development (OECD)
  • Passenger transport
  • Passive solar energy
  • Retail goods movement
  • Shale gas
  • Social context
  • Social efficiency
  • Space heating
  • United kingdom
  • United states
  • Urban agriculture
  • Urban density
  • Vegetarianism

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