UK can more than halve energy demand by 2050 and improve quality of life

A new report by The Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) has revealed the vital importance of working to reduce the UK’s overall energy demand in order to meet the UK’s net-zero target by 2050 – as well as the health, lifestyle and low-cost benefits it could bring to the general public.

The research by 17 experts including The University of Manchester’s Dr Kate Scott argues that without a strategy put in place to cut energy use across the UK economy, the Government faces a costly and challenging road to achieving its climate targets.

Offering up the most detailed analysis of the potential for lower energy service demands and higher energy efficiency seen at a national level, the researchers demonstrated the possibilities of reducing energy demand in every sector by modelling five activities - food and agriculture, transport, residential buildings, non-domestic buildings and industry/products.

Each model activity carefully incorporated possible social changes and energy efficiency strategies (such as improved insulation in homes and fewer miles travelled). By basing their predictions on social and technological advances, they were able to create four possible future scenarios - ignore, steer, shift and transform demand.

The evidence and recommendations in the report show that cutting energy use has the potential to deliver half of the cuts in emissions the UK needs to make by 2050.

Furthermore, it offers a series of significant benefits which meet other UK policy objectives such as improved wellbeing, biodiversity, affordable energy and the opportunity to reduce the risks and costs associated with relying on untested, undeveloped technical solutions in energy supply and geo-engineering.

Our report clearly demonstrates the benefits of reducing energy demand - not only to meet the UK’s net zero climate target, but to do so in a more cost-effective, less resource-intensive way, while improving many aspects related to health and well-being.
Dr Kate Scott

“The UK Government has yet to define how energy demand will contribute to achieving our climate ambitions,” says Professor John Barrett from the University of Leeds, who led the research.

“Given the evidence presented in this report, it is imperative that the UK Government outlines a detailed strategy with supporting policies, to enable energy demand reduction to fulfil its necessary role in achieving rapid emissions reductions in the UK.”