Enough is as good as a feast – sufficiency as policy

Sarah Darby
Economics and Financing
Behaviours and Social
Energy Generation and Distribution

The concept of sufficiency has a long history, related as it is to the timeless issues of how best to distribute and use resources. Where energy is concerned, absolute reductions in demand are increasingly seen as necessary in response to climate change and energy security concerns. There is an acknowledgement that, collectively if not individually, humans have gone beyond safe limits in their use of fuels. The relatively wealthy and industrialised
nations urgently need to move beyond a primary focus on efficiency to the more contentious issues surrounding demand reduction and sufficiency.

The paper considers definitions of energy sufficiency, looks at a recent attempt to model future energy use in terms of efficiency and sufficiency, and discusses quantitative and qualitative aspects of sufficiency and how they might become institutionalised. There are many arguments in favour of sufficiency
but they often founder in the face of political requirements for market growth and the employment generated by it. Some options for ‘sufficiency policy’ are selected, including a focus on energy in relation to livelihoods, energy implications of our use of time and making energy use more transparent.

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