Do energy scenarios pay sufficient attention to the environment? Lessons from the UK to support improved policy outcomes

Tara Hooper*, Melanie C. Austen, Nicola Beaumont, Philip Heptonstall, Robert A. Holland, Ioanna Ketsopoulou, Gail Taylor, Jim Watson, Mark Winskel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Scenario development is widely used to support the formation of energy policy, but many energy scenarios consider environmental interactions only in terms of climate change. We suggest that efforts to develop more holistic energy pathways, going beyond post hoc analysis of environmental and social implications, can usefully draw on environmental scenarios. A detailed content analysis of UK energy and environmental scenarios was therefore undertaken, with energy scenarios selected on the basis that they were recent, had a direct link to energy policy, and covered a range of scenario types. The energy scenarios rarely considered societal drivers beyond decarbonisation and focused on quantifiable parameters such as GDP, while the environmental scenarios provided a richer narrative on human behaviour and social change. As socio-economic issues remain fundamental to the success of energy policies, this is a key area which should be better addressed within energy scenarios. The environmental impacts of energy scenarios were rarely considered, but could have a significant bearing on the likelihood of pathway outcomes being realised. Fuller evaluation of the environmental interactions of energy systems is therefore required. Although the analysis focuses on the UK, some international scenarios show similar limitations, suggesting that the conclusions are more widely applicable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-408
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy Policy
Volume115
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

Keywords

  • energy
  • environment
  • policy
  • scenarios
  • UK

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