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Following the ‘golden thread: Exploring the energy dependency of economies and human well-being

Brand Correa, Lina Isabel (2018) Following the ‘golden thread: Exploring the energy dependency of economies and human well-being. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Climate change –one of the greatest threats to modern civilisation- has been largely driven by an exponential growth in world energy use in the last couple of centuries. However, societies and economies are dependent on energy use to maintain themselves and change. Thus, in this thesis I compare energy to a ‘golden thread’, which weaves through climate change, economic growth and human well-being. In this context, the challenge I set out to explore in this thesis was to find alternatives for decoupling societal and economic progress from environmentally harmful levels of energy use. In order to open the possibility space for decoupling the energy dependency of the economy from climate change, I used the holistic theoretical framework of surplus energy and developed a novel methodology for calculating Energy Return On Investment (EROI) at the national level. Similarly, in order to open the possibility space for decoupling the energy dependency of society (human well-being) from climate change, I developed an original theoretical framework, integrating the concepts of energy services and human needs, and tested it using an innovative methodology. I found that a national-level EROI can contribute to accelerate a transition away from fossil fuels, by providing evidence at a scale relevant for policymakers. Additionally, I found that the energy services and human needs framework, as well as the methodology to test it, provide a way to prioritise and explore alternatives of energy service delivery. I consider that both of these contributions point towards the possibility of having climate compatible energy dependent societies and economies, as long as there is a fundamental change in the framings, understanding, priorities and methodologies used to find and assess such possibility.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds) > Sustainability Research Institute (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.745585
Depositing User: Dr Lina I. Brand Correa
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2018 12:15
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:57
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20657

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