Energy sufficiency: the other side of the energy transition

By ENGIE - 08 December 2020 - 11:30

World Climate Day is an opportunity to consider one issue that is often overlooked on the path to carbon neutrality: energy sufficiency. An option highlighted by our dashboard of the energy transition.


Our energy transition dashboard, which we published in October, sets forth two levers to cut greenhouse gas emissions. One is the reduction of energy consumption, which involves energy sufficiency. The other is the decarbonization* of the production and consumption of electricity, thanks in particular to renewable electricity and gas energy, and to the improvement of energy efficiency. 


Energy sufficiency: the best way of reducing emissions

What exactly does energy sufficiency mean? Energy sufficiency refers to the deliberate and organised reduction of energy consumption. According to the dashboard, “NégaWatt 2050” is one of the few energy scenarios that explicitly includes energy sufficiency, estimating that it can slash the demand for energy by 28% by 2050 (out of a total reduction of 50%, where the other 22% is achieved through energy efficiency – survey limited to France). **.

Energy sufficiency concerns the whole of society, from individual consumers, to businesses and politicians. Individual consumers? By limiting the temperature in their homes and sharing their vehicles. Public authorities? By installing urban facilities for green mobility. Businesses? By favouring home-working and remote working, wherever possible. These examples show that solutions exist, and that sufficiency can have an immediate impact on energy consumption. And what’s more, energy sufficiency is a cheap and easy solution. So, what’s stopping us?


Changing attitudes and changing behaviour

Energy sufficiency must be fully understood and accepted in order to succeed. But it is unpopular amongst political decision-makers, who think that it is incompatible with an economic model based on growth and the notions of comfort and consumerism. These deep-seated behavioural changes demand a change of attitudes. The dashboard mentions some positive initiatives, such as the “Positive energy families” programme, which succeeded in cutting energy consumption by an average of 12% in 30,000 French households. But these initiatives are too local and there are no large-scale deployments.


Could COVID-19 change our attitudes to energy sufficiency?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a strong environmental impact that could change our behaviour in the long term and encourage energy sufficiency. The examples of major changes mentioned in the dashboard range from the rise of home-working and the digitalization of the tasks performed by certain workers, to the drop in air traffic, the need for health and food security, and the relocation of manufacturing industry.

To find out more, go to pages 50-51 of the dashboard.


The dashboard of energy transition, in two words 

This is the new title of our “A World of Energy” report, which ENGIE has been publishing for 10 years. In addition to the annual review of energies in France and worldwide, our dashboard also contains a detailed analysis of how the energy transition is taking place. Our goal is to help our stakeholders – businesses, public authorities, employees and citizens – to better understand the energy transition and to propose concrete actions that will help us to make it happen.


* Decarbonization is the removal of carbon dioxide from a substance. 
** Source: p. 51 of the Dashboard. 
*** The “Positive energy families” programme in France, which cut energy consumption by an average of 12% by raising awareness of energy saving in 30,000 French households.