Energy use and carbon emissions: From decoupling and transitions to sufficiency?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding


The paper examines and illustrates different trends in relation to historical energy use-related intensities and corresponding CO2 emission trends. The methodology encompasses a decomposition quantitative approach for estimating decoupling trends to energy use and economic and demographic parameters driving CO2 emission levels. The analysis covers both global and regional trends for the period 1971 to 2007. The findings suggest that policy portfolios have delivered marginal improvements, with relative decoupling as a key policy component. Estimated trends show that most of the energy and carbon intensity improvements have been incapable to offset the effects of population growth and the expansion of the global economic system. Demand for energy continues to growth despite ongoing structural changes. CO2 emissions have continued to rise in most regions of the world regardless of technology improvements. Energy and carbon-related equity aspects are discussed in the light of the carrying capacity of the climatic system and development issues. Whereas the findings support that sustainable energy and climate policy ought to be built on energy efficiency, sufficiency must also become an important foundation in the policy agenda of rich nations.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • sufficiency, economic growth, efficiency, CO2 emissions, energy services
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiennial International Society for Ecological Economics Conferences
PublisherInternational Society for Ecological Economics
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch
EventISEE Advancing Sustainability in Time of Crisis - Oldenburg and Bremen, Germany
Duration: 2010 Aug 222010 Aug 25


ConferenceISEE Advancing Sustainability in Time of Crisis
CityOldenburg and Bremen