Welfare, Employment and Energy Demand: Examining Tensions and Opportunities in the Delivery of Demand Reduction

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

Energy demand reduction is a key issue for the UK as it is necessary to meet several national policy goals, including energy security, carbon emissions targets and wider sustainability aims. The challenges involved in achieving this are significant and in general there is strong recognition that it will not be achieved through technological change alone but will require changes in the way that we use energy as part of daily life. What energy is used for is in part a reflection of how governments shape objectives and investments across many different policy domains. It follows that non-energy policies, for example, relating to economic development, health and safety or consumer choice, can have major implications for energy demand. This proposed project takes on the challenge of identifying the unintended energy demand consequences of policies beyond those focused specifically on energy. The research uses the policy area of welfare and employment as a case because it includes goals that have implications in terms of increasing energy demand (e.g. economic growth), reproducing particular temporal patterns of demand (e.g. through employment policies), and reducing demand (e.g. across welfare policies, such as for housing). The project aims to offer insight into; 1) the role of non-energy policy in the constitution of energy use and needs; and 2) the tensions and opportunities that arise in using non-energy policy to transform energy demand.

The research will address the following key questions:

1) How do welfare and employment policies contribute to the construction of needs, entitlements, and expectations, with regard to energy usage?
2) Which policy goals and associated strategies in this area conflict with aims for reducing energy usage and what opportunities exist for synergy?
3) How can policy-makers reconcile conflicting policy objectives and achieve welfare and employment goals in ways commensurate with reducing energy demand?

These research questions will be addressed through a programme of empirical research split across three interlinked work packages. Work package 1 focuses on reviewing and mapping current welfare and employment policies, along with relevant literature, empirical research and secondary data to facilitate assessment of energy demand impacts. Work package 2 builds on the review work by undertaking in-depth qualitative interviews with policy-makers and other stakeholders in the areas of welfare and employment. Work package 3 involves deliberative forum workshops with people working in both energy and welfare and employment across policy (national and regional), policy delivery, NGO's and other relevant institutions. The project will generate a rich novel data set that will be used to interrogate important questions about the role of non-energy policy in energy demand reduction. The lessons learned from this case study will inform processes of policy-making and innovation for energy demand reduction.

Planned Impact

This project will provide findings relating to how non-energy policies impact on, constrain or enable policy goals for energy demand reduction, as well as offering insight into policy-making processes. We envisage conclusions being beneficial to users in two specific ways: 1) through providing understanding of the ways that specific policies, not typically considered as important for energy policy, impact on energy demand; 2) by informing the development of working practices and strategies for realising energy demand reduction goals across policy areas.

Given that reducing energy demand is a policy priority for the UK, we anticipate a large number of economic and societal beneficiaries. These include; government and policy representatives (e.g. Department for Work and Pensions, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Welsh Government, Scottish Government), regulators (e.g. OFGEM), third sector organisations (e.g. Energy Saving Trust, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Centre for Sustainable Energy, National Energy Action), and energy industries (e.g. EDF Energy).

Our impact work will be based around partnerships and collaborative working which we have already begun to develop with key beneficiaries. In particular, we have secured the commitment of several stakeholders to actively contribute to the research via the project's advisory panel: Mike Daly (Central Analysis Division, Department for Work and Pensions), Simon Roberts (Director, Centre for Sustainable Energy), Katharine Knox (Research Manager, Community Assets and Climate Change, Joseph Rowntree Foundation), and Helen Stockton (Senior Research and Policy Officer, National Energy Action). We also have strong connections with officials in the Department of Energy and Climate Change that will be utilised in conjunction with the wider DEMAND Centre links to further develop collaborative relationships.

Through engaging with relevant organisations from the outset we have been able to establish the importance and relevance of the proposed research for users outside of academia (see for example, statements of support from National Energy Action and the Centre for Sustainable Energy). We will build on this initial engagement activity to identify and connect with a wider set of users and beneficiaries throughout the project. These processes will culminate in deliberative workshops to be undertaken as part of the research. The workshops will bring together policy makers and stakeholders working in welfare and employment, across policy (national and regional), policy delivery, NGO's and other relevant institutions, with those working on energy policy and demand reduction. They will provide forums for reflection and exchange and, ultimately, offer a pathway to positively impact on organisational culture, practices and policy.

Other activities designed to ensure we reach as diverse and wide a range of potential beneficiaries as possible include: communicating via the mainstream media and social media outlets; presenting outcomes of our work at a range of meetings and conferences, including targeted presentations for key users and beneficiaries at their institutions; disseminating through policy briefings and reports that facilitate early access to research insights for those outside of academia (for details see Pathways to Impact).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Evidence given to Energy and Climate Change Select Committee via RGS submission
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Evidence to Government Consultation on the Industrial Strategy via the RGS submission
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Advisory Panel Meeting - 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A second advisory panel for the project was held with representatives from third sector and practitioner organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, National Energy Action, and Centre for Sustainable Energy, as well as academic advisors. The day long meeting sparked discussion and questions about the project outcomes to date, and participants reported changes in views relating to the connections between the policy areas being addressed in the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Blog for End Use Energy Demand Centre Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A blog was published on the End Use Energy Demand Centre website reaching a wide audience through the website and promotion on social media. Subsequently, requests for further information about the project and reflections on the piece were received from audience members via email and twitter.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.eueduk.com/welfare-employment-policy-impacts-energy-demand/
 
Description Centre for Sustainable Energy Workshop on Bristol Smart Energy City Collaboration 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop provided opportunity to input to development of a road-map for the realization of energy demand reduction aims in Bristol. New connections were formed with regional stakeholders and practitioners and information from the project was used as a basis for contributions.

A report and road-map are being developed from the workshop with activities planned for the Smart Energy City Collaboration to take forward over the next 3 years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.cse.org.uk/projects/view/1296
 
Description Environment and Health Behaviours Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The event brought together researchers and practitioners in health behaviours with those looking at environmental behaviours. It sparked thinking about the avenues for impact from the project and interest from organisations not previously considered. It also led to a further event in February 2016 which Butler co-organised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description National Energy Action Annual Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Interactions at the conference established new contacts with interests in the project and facilitated identification and developed of new relationships with potential beneficiaries.

Generated interest in participating in the project as interviewees.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.nea.org.uk/campaigns-events/calendar/sheffield
 
Description Not4Experts Tyndall Centre Webinar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Approximately 40 people attended a Not4Experts webinar given by Catherine Butler and Karen Parkhill from various locations around the UK. This sparked discussion afterwards and communications from attendees whose interest in the research had been raised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation 'Communicating risk and uncertainty' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A presentation was given drawing on the research, prompting debate, discussion, and questions from the audience on issues of communication about risk and uncertainty.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at EDF workshop on 'Interrelating energy and poverty: extending the research agenda' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A presentation was given to a small workshop of approximately 15 individuals organised with EDF energy in Paris. The talk generated further interest in the project and sparked questions and discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Public talk at York 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Approximately 80 people attended a public lecture on the project, which prompted questions and discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Roundtable on Strategic narratives for climate change 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Approximately 30 people attended a roundtable of experts, policy professionals, and practitioners chaired by Lord Deben addressing questions about narratives relating to climate change. The roundtable produced debate and discussion with key inputs from the project and sparked plans for future related activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Royal Geographical Society Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The talk generated interest in and engagement with the project from audience members - questions after the talk and further discussion after the session.

After the talk requests for further information about the project were received and new connections established
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.energywelfareproject.org/#!news---events/y2nei
 
Description Welfare, Employment and Energy Demand Project Advisory Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A day long discussion about the research and presentation about the project so far resulted in interest in the research and enabled us to identify areas of particular interest for research users.

After the meeting participants have expressed their interest in the research, including developing a joint PhD proposal to be linked to the project. They have also assisted in connecting us with other non-academic audiences to whom they think the research will be of interest. Plans are in place for future meetings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015