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Title: Energy efficiency, human behavior, and economic growth: Challenges to cutting energy demand to sustainable levels

Increasing energy efficiency in households, transportation, industries, and services is an important strategy to reduce energy service demand to levels that allow the steep reduction of greenhouse gases, and a full fledged switch of energy systems to a renewable basis. Yet, technological efficiency improvements may generate so-called rebound effects, which may ‘eat up’ parts of the technical savings potential. This article provides a comprehensive review of existing research on these effects, raises critiques, and points out open questions. It introduces micro-economic rebound effect and suggests extending consumer-side analysis to incorporate potential ‘psychological rebound effects.’ It then discusses meso-economic rebound effects, i.e. producer-side and market-level rebounds, which so far have achieved little attention in the literature. Finally, the article critically reviews evidence for macro-economic rebound effects as energy efficiency-induced economic growth impacts. For all three categories, the article summarizes assessments of their potential quantitative scope, while pointing out remaining methodological weaknesses and open questions. As a rough “rule of thumb”, in the long term and on gross average, only half the technical savings potential of across-the-board efficiency improvements may actually be achieved in the real world. Policies that aim at cutting energy service demand to sustainable levels are well advised tomore » take due note of detrimental behavioral and economic growth impacts, and should foster policies and measures that can contain them.« less
Authors:
 [1]
  1. Visiting Scholar, Institute of European Studies and Energy and Resources Group, University of California, Berkeley, 310 Barrows Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-3050 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22391279
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: AIP Conference Proceedings; Journal Volume: 1652; Journal Issue: 1; Conference: 3. Conference on the Physics of Sustainable Energy: Using Energy Efficiently and Producing It Renewably, Berkeley, CA (United States), 8-9 Mar 2014; Other Information: (c) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY AND ECONOMY; ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; ENERGY DEMAND; ENERGY EFFICIENCY; ENERGY POLICY; ENERGY SYSTEMS; GLOBAL ASPECTS; GREENHOUSE GASES; HOUSEHOLDS; MARKET