Reducing energy demand

Britain is already committed to a 34 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. This is a big leap from where we are now, but in reality it’s unlikely to be a big enough step to stop temperatures rising to levels that result in extreme weather events and droughts. Developed countries like the UK will need to go further.

Possibly the most useful – and least understood – step we could take is to reduce our overall energy demand.

This doesn’t have to mean a drop in our living standards – wastefulness is built right into the system we use. Many of our power plants (whatever the fuel type) waste around two-thirds of the energy that goes into them; our homes and offices are poorly insulated; our appliances keep using energy even on standby; our cars use only a fraction of the energy in petrol and diesel… the list is goes on.

But there is cause for hope. Government research estimated that we could realistically cut our energy use by 30 per cent across the board – and save ourselves a whopping £12bn a year in reduced bills by improving energy efficiency. And this is exactly what we need to be doing.