Of embodied emissions and inequality: Rethinking energy consumption

Baker, Lucy (2018). Of embodied emissions and inequality: Rethinking energy consumption. Energy Research & Social Science, 36 pp. 52–60.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2017.09.027


This paper situates concepts of energy consumption within the context of growing research on embodied emissions. Using the UK as a case study I unpack the global socio-economic and ecological inequalities inherent in the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions on a territorial basis under the international climate change framework. In so doing, I problematise questions of distribution, allocation and responsibility with regards to the pressing need to reduce global GHG emissions and the consumption that generates them. I challenge the disproportionate emphasis that energy policy places on supply as opposed to demand, as well as its overriding focus on the national scale. Consequently I argue that any low carbon transition, in addition to a technological process, is also a geographical one that will involve the reconfiguration of "current spatial patterns of economic and social activity" (Bridge et al., 2013:331), as well as relationships both within countries and regions and between them.

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