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Energy rebound and economic growth: A review of the main issues and research needs

Listed author(s):
  • Madlener, R.
  • Alcott, B.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, more efficient use of energy may actually through rebound effects lead to greater instead of less total consumption of energy—or at least to no diminution of energy consumption. If so, energy efficiency strategies may serve goals of raising economic growth and affluence, but as an environmental or energy policy strategy could backfire, leading to more resource use in absolute terms rather than less. This, in turn, could in the long run hamper economic growth, for instance if resource scarcity crowds out technical change. The hypothesis that rebound is greater than unity (‘backfire’) predicts the observed real-world correlation between rising energy consumption and rising efficiency of energy services, however difficult it may be to define a precise holistic metric for the latter. The opposing hypothesis, i.e. that rebound is less than unity and that energy efficiency increases therefore result in less energy consumption than before, requires on the other hand strong forces that do account for the empirically observed economic growth. This paper summarises some of the discussions around the rebound effect, puts it into perspective to economic growth, and provides some insights at the end that can guide future empirical research on the rebound topic.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544208002934
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy.

Volume (Year): 34 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 370-376

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Handle: RePEc:eee:energy:v:34:y:2009:i:3:p:370-376
DOI: 10.1016/j.energy.2008.10.011
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/energy

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