Energy sufficiency: are we ready for it? An analysis of sustainable energy initiatives and citizen visions

Panel: 1. The dynamics of limiting (energy) consumption

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Authors:
Edina Vadovics, GreenDependent Institute, Hungary
Lidija Živčič, Focus Association for Sustainable Development, Slovenia

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to bring together knowledge and experience about energy sufficiency from two European projects.On the one hand, relying on a database of sustainable energy initiatives we investigate whether the concept of energy sufficiency is present in projects designed to make energy consumption more sustainable.On the other hand, based on an analysis of visions created by citizens, we explore whether energy sufficiency, or sufficiency in general, appears in citizen visions of a sustainable future.

The paper starts by defining energy sufficiency, or more accurately, ‘energy sufficiency within limits’ that the authors describe as consumption that ensures that everyone has access to a sufficient amount of energy to satisfy their basic needs in a way that respects the ecological limits of the planet. Thus, energy sufficiency is understood as connecting the need to limit energy consumption with the need to make consumption and distribution more just, hence also introducing the concept of energy justice into the analysis.

Then, an analysis of the ENERGISE database of 1000+ sustainable energy consumption initiatives (SECIs) from 30 European countries is introduced, using an energy sufficiency framework.This is followed by a study of citizen visions from the CIMULACT project. CIMULACT developed a participatory methodology that involved more than 1000 citizens from 30 European countries in a consultation process during which visions of a desirable future were created. These citizen visions are analyzed from the point of view of sufficiency: namely, does the latter term (or similar terms) appear? If yes, in which contexts, and in relation to which objectives? What, if any, are the aspects that are currently missing? The paper closes with reflections on what the findings from the analysis mean for putting energy sufficiency more firmly on the research, action and policy agenda.

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