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The role of energy efficiency in reducing Scottish and UK CO2 emissions

Kelly, N.J. (2006) The role of energy efficiency in reducing Scottish and UK CO2 emissions. Energy Policy, 34 (18). pp. 3505-3515. ISSN 0301-4215

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In 2003, the UK government launched its long-anticipated White Paper on energy, the centrepieces of which were ambitious targets for the production of electricity from renewable technologies and the long-term aspiration of a 60% reduction in UK greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In the White Paper it was recognised that such a dramatic reduction in emissions will require significant changes in the way in which energy is produced and used. However there has been a general failure to recognise the fact that in order to meet emissions targets, the UK will have to significantly reduce its energy consumption; this is not helped by the general misconception in the UK that reductions in CO2 emissions will occur simply by increasing the production of electricity from renewable sources. Specifically, this paper highlights the current trends in renewables deployment and energy demand, with a specific focus on Scotland, where the authorities have set more ambitious renewables targets than the rest of the UK. As will be demonstrated in this paper, without energy demand reduction, the deployment of renewables alone will not be sufficient to curtail growth in UK CO2 emissions. This is illustrated using a case study of the Scottish housing sector; whilst this case study is necessarily local in scope, the results have global relevance. The paper will also address the magnitude of energy savings required to bring about a reduction in emissions and assesses the status of the policies and technologies that could help bring such reductions about.