A framework for characterising an economy by its energy and socio-economic activities

Simon H Roberts, Colin J Axon, Barney Foran, Nigel H Goddard, Benjamin S Warr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Investigating the energy use of an economy in a resource-constrained world requires an understanding ofthe relationships of its economic, social, and energy-use elements. We introduce a novel whole-economyanalytical framework which harmonises multiple national accounting procedures. The economic ele-ments align with the International System of National Accounts. In a modular fashion, our frameworkcurates and maintains disparate accounts (economic stocks and flows, energy use, employment, trans-port) in parallel, but retains each of their unique measurement unit and accounting requirements. Wepresent the UK as a case study to demonstrate how the data organisation and conditioning procedures aregeneric and will allow model development for other countries. The framework is capable of exploitingtime-series ratios between different measurement units to give key functional relationships that varygradually over time, are robust and thus useful for analysing national policy complexities such as decar-bonisation, employment, investment and balance of payments. We use novel Sankey diagrams to visualisesnapshots of the whole system. The framework is neither an exclusively economic, physical, nor socialmodel. It upholds the integrity of each world-view through retaining their unique time-series datasets.As this framework is agnostic to the way in which a nation organises its economy, it has the potential toreduce tension between competing models and philosophies of economic development, environmentalrefurbishment, and climate change mitigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-113
Number of pages15
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Early online date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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