Staying in a green and safe place

Energy sufficiency is a new concept for many people, and pictures representing new concepts can often help us develop a better understanding of them. As part of this project, researchers at Oxford University have developed the ‘energy sufficiency doughnut’ – a picture showing what we mean by energy sufficiency.

The energy sufficiency doughnut is an adaptation of the sustainable development doughnut, developed by Kate Raworth for Oxfam (a UK development charity).

The space within the boundaries–the doughnut itself–is a safe space for humanity. Within this, everyone has access to the energy services to support their fundamental needs and, at the same time, the energy system does not exceed any of the planet's environmental limits.

The space inside the inner ring of the doughnut is where not everyone's fundamental needs are met. These are needs such as shelter, health, work, mobility/access and communication. Whilst the details of these needs vary across different communities, their fundamental nature is common to everyone.

The space outside the outer ring of of the doughnut is where environmental limits have been breached. These limits relate to local and regional air pollution linked to the sources of energy we use; the carbon emissions from these sources; the materials used in the infrastructure of supply and demand, and the land and water used to provide energy services.

This adapted doughnut was developed by authors from Oxford University, as part of their contribution to eceee's sufficiency project. Their report examines what we mean by energy sufficiency and how we might develop a common understanding of what the inner and outer rings of the doughnut actually mean.

It raises some of the key issues for Europeans to consider as we move from talking about the concept of energy sufficiency to putting it into practice and develops initial ideas about how current energy and energy efficiency policies could be reoriented towards delivering energy sufficiency.

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Energy sufficiency: an introduction. Concept paper from eceee's sufficiency project.