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How UK energy subsidies drove down consumption, pushed up prices and reduced our prosperity

Dr John Constable, March 2023

This briefing from energy expert Dr John Constable, seeks to put the question of falling UK energy consumption into the spotlight, and offers reasons for thinking that it is, or rather should be, a matter of profound concern rather than complacency or even self-congratulation.

Constable looks at UK energy consumption over time and shows that our national energy consumption is at its lowest level since the 1950s and has fallen by 30 per cent since the early 2000s. The fall in electricity consumption is particularly notable, being 22 per cent below its peak in 2005 and now at levels last seen in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

These are deeply worrying trends suggesting a general decline in societal complexity. This new Civitas analysis notes that the observed decline in energy consumption coincided with new environmental levies on consumer bills to fund renewable energy sources. Environmental levies on household bills and other carbon reduction policies and associated costs have risen from £500 million in 2010 to over £15 billion in 2021. It is more probable than not that this has discouraged energy use through price rationing, and has damaged our prosperity and wellbeing as industrial, commercial and domestic use of energy falls.

Without adequate energy input our society will be far less wealthy; there will be a reduction in human well-being. There is therefore good reason for concluding that the historically unprecedented falls in energy consumption registered in the United Kingdom are already jeopardising our prosperity. Falling energy consumption implies a strong likelihood of societal decay.

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