Improving the Evidence Base for Energy Policy: The Role of Systematic Reviews
The concept of Evidence Based Policy and Practice (EBPP) has gained increasing prominence in the UK over the last ten years and now plays a dominant role in a number of policy areas, including healthcare, education, social work, criminal justice and urban regeneration. But despite this substantial, influential and growing activity, the concept remains largely unknown to policymakers and researchers within the energy field. This paper proposes a definition of EBPP, identifies its key features and examines the potential role of systematic reviews of evidence in a particular area of policy. It summarises the methods through which systematic reviews are achieved; discusses their advantages and limitations; identifies the particular challenges they face in the energy policy area; and assesses whether and to what extent they can usefully be applied to contemporary energy policy questions. The concept is illustrated with reference to a proposed review of evidence for a 'rebound effect' from improved energy efficiency. The paper concludes that systematic reviews may only be appropriate for a subset of energy policy questions and that research-funding priorities may need to change if they use is to become more widespread.
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