Technical Note 8: Energy sufficiency as part of climate action

The concern for sufficiency as part of designing ambitious pathways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change stems from a broader concern for sustainability.A growing evidence of some kind of overshoot of planetary boundaries – of which climate change is one major, but not single factor –, although still challenged by some stakeholders, is leading to a growing call for a broad response. While a faster development and deployment of greener technologies is part of this response, the discussion increasingly points to the need for changes in societal organisation and practices.

One of the main questions to be addressed is then to discuss how much such changes are needed, what do they concretely mean, and how much can be achieved. Over recent years, sufficiency emerged as a proposed term, and concept, to “encompass such efforts to rethink and redesign collective and individual practices in line with the Earth limits and people aspirations for better lives”, according to a definition coined by the International Network for Sufficiency Research & Policy (Enough, 2018). This has possible implications in many areas and relates to reflections to be led on such diverse issues as human needs, social equity, economic development, urban structures, social norms, consumption habits, and so on. It therefore also calls for rethinking policies to support the necessary transition in these different areas.


The present note explores the way the concept of sufficiency, when applied to energy, can contribute to building compliance with the Paris Agreement by reinforcing long term scenarios that in turn inform policies. After clarifying the concept and its link to social, economical and ethical concerns, it discusses the reasons why sufficiency should be considered as an important and possibly crucial mitigation option, and how to introduce it in modelling work accordingly, to fully reflect its potential role while taking into account its limitations.

Technical Note 8: Energy sufficiency as part of climate action

Marignac, Y. (2019), Energy sufficiency as part of climate action, Publication of Climate Recon 2050 project.

Yves Marignac (Association négaWatt), with substantial input by Edouard Toulouse (Enough)
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