Energy efficiency and economic growth: a coevolutionary perspective and implications for a low carbon transition

Produced as part of the Governments, markets and climate change mitigation CCCEP research programme theme

This paper reviews recent strands of work arguing that high quality energy inputs and their efficient conversion to useful work have been key drivers of economic growth. This is important for understanding how a low carbon transition could be achieved and resulting implications for economic growth. An increase in energy input costs, due to declining availability of cheap oil and the need to switch to low-carbon alternatives, will have profound, but insufficiently understood, economic impacts.

The paper argues that a useful way forward for understanding these impacts would be to combine insights from a coevolutionary economic understanding of the drivers of economic growth with those from socio-ecological approaches that emphasise the material and energy reliance of modern industrial economies.