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The challenge of decoupling energy use from GDP (PIB in french): recent findings and implications for meeting the Paris Agreement targets
Paul Brockway
Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, UK.
Wed, Sep. 27th 2023, 11:00-12:30
SPEC Salle Itzykson, Bât.774, Orme des Merisiers

Dr Paul Brockway is an Associate Professor in Energy and Economics at the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, UK. He has a 5 year research fellowship on the topic ‘Applying thermodynamic laws to the energy-GDP decoupling problem’, where he applies an Exergy Economics approach to study thermodynamic energy conversion within energy-economy modelling frameworks.


To meet our Paris / climate change targets, energy models assume a key role for energy efficiency to reduce energy use, in combination with a huge deployment of renewables. But is this blind faith in energy efficiency merited? I examine historical global trends, and find there has been no global historical absolute energy-GDP decoupling, and yet this is a key assumption in the models. So, what is causing the disconnect between past and future assumed energy-GDP trends? I explore the evidence for large economy-wide rebound as a plausible explanation, and find compelling support for this hypothesis. It also confirms an underrecognised role for energy efficiency in enabling economic growth. So what can we do? I close by considering what we can do in response, covering modelling and policy actions.

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