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UK Proves Increased Wealth Does Not Correlate with Increased Energy Usage

Jon Maxwell for Zondits, August 1, 2014

The U.K.’s population increased by about 7.5% between 2000 and 2012. Their GDP increased 58% over the same period (or 20% depending on your source). How much do you think energy use increased? It didn’t. It dropped 12%. Now this comparison doesn’t normalize for their 16% reduction in production GDP (a more energy intensive realm) in opposition to their less energy intensive services GDP rise or anything else. Clever efficiency programs, climate change agreements, and increasingly stringent codes cannot take all the credit, either.

The price of energy tripled during this time period. Ouch. That had something to do with it. Perhaps the U.S. should add a consumption tax that triples our energy rates and returns 100% of the collected tax as an income tax credit. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that is not politically feasible.

But it is encouraging to see that increased wealth does not necessarily lead to increased energy usage and that absolute energy use can go down in the face of economic growth.

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It’s official. Energy consumption in the UK is on the way down

ECEEE, August 1, 2014

Here is a simple test for everybody. By how much has UK energy consumption already increased during this century?

Actually, this isn’t just a question for generalists. I have been regularly trying it out on energy specialists in companies, in trade bodies. Even among the senior civil service. The answer given varies. But almost without exception, the response is that consumption has gone up. Sometimes by 5 per cent, sometimes 10 per cent, sometimes 20 per cent or more.

I then ask: how much do you think the country’s wealth has increased over the same period? And when I tell people that – even despite the recession – Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen by no less than 58 per cent between 2000 and 2012, I instantly get a reevaluation of how much energy consumption has grown.

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