Consumer-supplier-government triangular relations: Rethinking the UK policy path for carbon emissions reduction from the UK residential sector
The UK residential (household) sector is responsible for approximately 30% of total carbon dioxide emissions and is often seen as the most promising in terms of early reductions. As most direct household emissions come from only two fuel sources, this paper critically examines how existing emissions reduction policies for the sector shape - and are shaped by - relations between the three main groups of actor in this policy domain: central government, gas and electricity suppliers, and energy users. Focusing on relations between three dyads (government-suppliers, suppliers-consumers and consumers-government) enables us to examine aspects of demand reduction that have often been overlooked to date. By 'relations' we refer to services, power relationships and flows of capital and information, as well as less easily defined elements such as loyalty, trust and accountability. The paper argues that the chosen government policy path to deliver demand reduction, which heavily emphasises the suppliers' role, suffers from principal-agent problems, fails to align consumers and supplier interests toward emissions reduction, and does not yet portray a lower-carbon future in positive terms. It suggests that more attention should be paid to government-consumer relations, recognising that energy consumers are also citizens.
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- Wright, Peter & Mukherji, Ananda & Kroll, Mark J., 2001. "A reexamination of agency theory assumptions: extensions and extrapolations," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 413-429.
- Mitchell, Catherine & Connor, Peter, 2004. "Renewable energy policy in the UK 1990-2003," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(17), pages 1935-1947, November.
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