Energy: Supply & Demand

We want to move toward energy sufficiency. This is about how much energy is enough. We ask how much energy is really needed before it is no longer improving human well-being? Sustainable energy needs to ensure both minimum amounts for well-being and maximum limits. During the COVID-19 shutdown there was some chaos in the energy sector, due in no small part to geopolitical contexts. We are expecting to see long-term consequences such as changes in energy consumption patterns, collapse of the fossil fuel sector, interruption in the shift to renewables, and the potential for supply crunch down the line. As Nafeez Ahmed suggests, is this crisis or what comes from it the beginning of civilizational phase shift? Policy must be guided by 1) an accurate and realistic understanding of the role of energy in society and 2) a willingness to honestly confront the profound socio-economic implications of a shift to a renewable energy basis

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How can you make a difference?

  • Reduce overall energy use at the household level, through
    • absolute reductions in the consumption of energy services (e.g. working from home when possible, discouraging frivolous travel),
    • shifting to more efficient modes of providing energy services (e.g. public transit and micromobility over cars), and
    • prioritizing shared rather than individualized utilization of energy services (e.g. community kitchens, ride-sharing)

Policy Suggestions

Local and MunicipalFederal & Provincial/State
Energy literacy introduced to school curricula to provide a realistic view of energy transition prospects and enable transformative thinkingPublic buyout and long-term winding down of fossil fuel industry along just transition principles, done in such a way as to avoid critical shortages during the renewable energy build-out
Community energy planning
a) Neighborhood/institutional retrofits for energy efficiency
b) Local, peer-to-peer or communal energy production to the extent possible
Retraining and support programs for workers in fossil fuel industry and sectors needing help to transition away from carbon-intensive practices
District energy 
a) Feasibility studies
b) Anchor institutions (i.e. hospitals, universities)
Rural cooperatives for production and ownership of electricity and telecom
Initiatives to reduce overall energy use in buildings and householdsNationalization of the energy sector where necessary
Re-localization of industrial policy
Shifting away from GDP growth as a guiding principle for economic policy to allow for reductions in useful energy delivered (strongly correlated with GDP growth – Ayres, Warr, Kummel, et. al) while minimizing the resulting social and economic impacts stemming from economic contraction

Allies, Related Resources, and E4A Publications

Change in Action

While not all of these projects direction involve E4A, they are great examples of diverse examples of socio-ecological change in action.

To suggest a change, edit, or update please contact us! You are also welcome to explore and comment on our collaborative Google Document where we share ideas and resources.