Reducing the amount of energy we use will be key to cutting emissions and reaching net zero, but energy demand reduction measures also have a range of co-benefits which can help to improve citizens’ wellbeing, such as improved health outcomes and local job creation. Forthcoming research under the Energy Demand Research Centre (EDRC) Governance theme will examine how to assess these co-benefits to inform local and national policy-making, building on work done by EDRC Co-investigators Prof Tim Foxon, Dr Donal Brown, Dr Marie Claire Brisbois and colleagues under the previous Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS). This work explored how actions at a local and regional level can deliver energy demand reduction measures which contribute to the UK’s net zero climate goals, whilst providing economic, social and environmental benefits to improve local people’s wellbeing.
A report resulting from this work, co-authored with the New Economics Foundation (NEF), on Local Green New Deals: A transformative plan for achieving the UK’s climate, social and economic goals locally, was launched at two high profile events towards the end of 2023. The report explores the potential scale of energy demand reduction measures needed to realise transformative changes in relation to four key objectives: 1) Cheaper, warmer, zero carbon homes; 2) Affordable, sustainable public transport; 3) Car-free city centres and active travel; and 4) Expanding green spaces and nature restoration, and makes proposals for policy measures across three domains: new institutions for delivery; new powers; and new funding. Drawing on case studies and in-depth engagement with citizens in two contrasting UK regions, Greater Brighton and North of Tyne, the report provides evidence of high levels of public support for these policies, whilst recognising that how they are implemented matters, including issues of fairness and equity.