France shrank its energy use by 10% last winter. Here's how.

Turns out "sobriety" has something to do with it. (Though probably not in the way you think.)

France shrank its energy use by 10% last winter. Here's how.
Photo by Léonard Cotte / Unsplash

Concerned that Russia's war with Ukraine could lead to energy shortages, France implemented a 15-point "energy sobriety plan" last year to limit the amount of energy people and organizations use in their daily lives.

Based on this TechExplore article, it sounds like their goal was to reduce energy use by 10% within two years – and they were able to accomplish it last winter simply by implementing common-sense sufficiency measures such as keeping the thermostat down, dimming or turning off lights in certain hours, and offering subsidies for energy-saving purchases such as heat pumps. The article offers three key takeaways on how to effectively decarbonize and concludes that meeting the country's energy goals will require "integrating energy sufficiency into a broader transformation of society."

It's good to see that relatively simple sufficiency measures can get significant results quickly – but it sounds like they can only take us so far. We'll also need to see significant changes to our infrastructure, economy, and transportation systems if we want to decarbonize society and prevent the worst impacts of climate change.  

Read the full article here.

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