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Lessons from energy history for climate policy: technological change, demand and economic development

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  • Fouquet, Roger

Abstract

This paper draws lessons from long run trends in energy markets for energy and climate policy. An important lesson is that consumer responses to energy markets change with economic development. The British experience suggests that income elasticities1 of demand for energy services have tended to follow an inverse-U shape curve. Thus, at low levels of economic development, energy service consumption tends to be quite responsive to per capita income changes; at mid-levels, consumption tends to be very responsive to changes in income per capita; and, at high levels, consumption is less responsive to income changes. The paper also highlights the importance of formulating integrated energy service policies to reduce risks to developing countries of locking-in to carbon intensive infrastructure or behaviour. Without guidance and incentives, rapid economic development is likely to lock consumers into high energy service prices in the long run and bind the economy onto a high energy intensity trajectory with major long run economic and environmental impacts. Thus, effective energy service policies in periods of rapid development, such as in China and India at present, are crucial for the long run prosperity of the economy and their future ability to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions.

Suggested Citation

  • Fouquet, Roger, 2016. "Lessons from energy history for climate policy: technological change, demand and economic development," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67785, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:67785
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/67785/
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    2. Manuel Monge & Luis A. Gil-Alana, 2020. "The Lithium Industry and Analysis of the Beta Term Structure of Oil Companies," Risks, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(4), pages 1-17, December.
    3. Rubio-Varas, Mar & Muñoz-Delgado, Beatriz, 2017. "200 years diversifying the energy mix? Diversification paths of the energy baskets of European early comers vs. latecomers," Working Papers in Economic History 2017/01, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
    4. Popescu, Gheorghe H. & Mieila, Mihai & Nica, Elvira & Andrei, Jean Vasile, 2018. "The emergence of the effects and determinants of the energy paradigm changes on European Union economy," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 81(P1), pages 768-774.
    5. Sutrisno, Aziiz & Nomaler, Ӧnder & Alkemade, Floor, 2021. "Has the global expansion of energy markets truly improved energy security?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 148(PA).
    6. Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2017. "Contestation, contingency, and justice in the Nordic low-carbon energy transition," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 569-582.
    7. Herve Bercegol & Henri Benisty, 2020. "An energy-based macroeconomic model validated by global historical series since 1820," Papers 2008.10967, arXiv.org, revised Sep 2020.
    8. Fadiran, Gideon & Fadiran, David & Ibn-Mohammed, Taofeeq, 2017. "Macroeconomic Policy effects on development transition – Views from Agent based model," MPRA Paper 103197, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2018.
    9. Nielsen, Hana & Warde, Paul & Kander, Astrid, 2018. "East versus West: Energy intensity in coal-rich Europe, 1800–2000," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 75-83.

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    Keywords

    energy history; energy transitions; economic development; climate policy;
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    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General

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