Consumer Efficiency in Conflict with GDP Growth

Jørgen Nørgaard

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    During the last couple of decades some attention has been devoted to the potential for utilizing energy more efficiently. Most of this debate has not concentrated on the energy efficiency of the economy as a whole, but merely addressed options for implementing more energy efficient technology. This paper is an attempt to unfold the whole economy chain, stretching from extraction of resources from nature to satisfying human needs. Ways are suggested to analyze the energy efficiencies of the various links in the chain, mainly seen from the point of view of the three standard categories of consumption: durable goods, services, and non-durable goods. Real life cases illustrate the huge potential for overall energy efficiency improvement. Longevity of durable goods makes up one case. Another case is the often-mentioned potential for more energy efficient end-use technologies. Most discussion is, however, devoted to the options for improving overall efficiency by satisfying people’s wants through other means than economic throughput of energy, etc., such as by leisure time. Barriers for implementing efficiency options are discussed, pointing out the inherited conflict in affluent regions between efficiency, especially at the side of the consumers, and the quest for increasing GDP.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEcological Economics
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)15-29
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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