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Energy in Europe: switching the emphasis from efficiency to sufficiency
Over the past decade a plethora of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ sustainable energy initiatives have emerged all over Europe. While sustainable energy initiatives are generally heralded as part of a successful energy transition, there is a wide spectrum of energy activities promoted within these initiatives. Drawing on the novel ENERGISE database of 1067 sustainable energy consumption initiatives from 30 countries in Europe focusing on households, we examine the different forms and range of energy related consumption activities, and explore the degree to which they adhere to the principles of efficiency and sufficiency within the sustainable consumption and production literature. Our analysis reveals that only 9% of the 1067 cases directly relate to sufficiency and that the majority of activities are still concentrated on efficiency measures, where environmental impacts might remain relatively high. The principle of sufficiency remains underdeveloped in both the academic and policy literature and this analysis provides valuable empirical data categorising innovative energy reduction initiatives. This work advances the energy sufficiency agenda by assisting policy makers, communities groups, various intermediaries and researchers in the energy domain to identify some of the practical 'energy sufficiency' initiatives that are being undertaken by householders and communities across Europe.