Efficiency and the Rebound Effect in the Hegemonic Discourse on Energy

in Nature and Culture
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Abstract

The aim of the article is to discuss the unintended consequences of energy efficiency, in the context of defuturization, by addressing the phenomenon of the rebound effect. The energy discourse is presented as ideological discourse protecting the status quo, even if it contemplates alternatives solutions. The interpretation of energy efficiency in the light of the Luhmannian concept of temporal structures in the modern society is proposed, and two types of expert narratives on the rebound effect are outlined: the mechanistic rebound effect and the systemic Jevons paradox. Finally, we explain why none of them are noticeably reflected in public discourse on energy policy and are limited to the scientific milieu.

Contributor Notes

Franco Ruzzenenti is Assistant Professor at the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Groningen. His scientific interests include the rebound effect, energy efficiency, sustainability and energy, evolutionary and finite-time thermodynamics, network theory, and finance. He has published articles in journals such as Scientific Reports, PLOS One, Ecological Economics, Applied Energy, Energy, Energy Policy, Physical Review E, Physica, Ecological Modelling, and Energy Conservation and Management. He recently contributed four chapters to Complex Systems and Social Practices in Energy Transitions: Framing Energy Sustainability in the Time of Renewables (Springer, 2017). Email: f.ruzzenenti@rug.nl

Aleksandra Wagner is a sociologist, instigator, and founder of the Dialogue for Policy group, and Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Sociology of the Jagiellonian University. She specializes in discursive analyses of public policies, designing participatory processes and effective moderation of public dialogue. Recent publications have appeared in Energy Policy, Science and Public Policy, Energy Research and Social Science, and the New Educational Review. She is the editor of Visible and Invisible: Nuclear Energy, Shale Gas and Wind Power in the Polish Media Discourses (Jagiellonian University Press, 2017). Her current research project focuses on the visions of the future in European energy policies and their significance for energy transition. Email: aleksandra.wagner@uj.edu.pl

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