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UK Energy Policy 1980-2010: A History and Lessons to be Learnt

This review is published jointly by The IET and the Parliamentary Group for Energy Studies. The aim of this review is to take a longer term perspective on UK energy policies since 1980, the year in which the Parliamentary Group for Energy Studies was founded.

The authors are leading energy policy analysts Professor Peter Pearson, Director of the Low Carbon Research Institute of Wales, Cardiff University, and Professor Jim Watson, Director of the Sussex Energy Group, University of Sussex. 

The publication identifies key trends in the development of UK energy policies, and offers reflections on what has changed (and what has not) and what lessons might be learned. The review:

  • charts the significant changes the UK has experienced in the structure of energy supply and demand since 1980;
  • demonstrates that trends in energy policy cannot be analysed in isolation from the broader trends in politics and political philosophy that underpin successive governments;
  • demonstrates that successive governments have been faced with a difficult task of balancing multiple policy objectives and instruments, and
  • charts the diminishing attention paid to energy policy after the privatisations of the 1980s and its gradual rise, with climate change, to centre stage again.