Profile

Tina Fawcett's research concerns energy use by households and organisations. She uses a multi-disciplinary approach to understand current patterns of use, and to identify opportunities and policies for reducing energy use and carbon emissions.

Tina is leading social research in EDOL (Energy Demand Observatory and Laboratory), a major five-year project collecting high-quality, longitudinal quantitative and qualitative data from over 2,000 UK households (2023–2027). She is also contributing to the EPSRC Network for the Decarbonisation of Heating and Cooling. Other ongoing research includes analysis of pre-payment meter users and fuel poverty, reconsidering the balance between investment in retrofit and low-carbon heating systems, and developing thinking on sufficiency in energy services. In addition, Tina is involved in climate change education research and outreach initiatives, most recently as part of the Museum of Climate Hope team. 

Tina led the 'policy and governance' theme in the Centre for Research on Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) from 2018 to 2023. Her research work within CREDS focused on policy for further, faster and more flexible delivery of energy demand reduction, particularly in relation to buildings energy use. She also worked on Energy Superhub Oxford, a large demonstration project trialling smart local energy systems, and M-BENEFITS, an EU H2020 project on the multiple benefits of energy efficiency for businesses. 

A number of her projects have focused on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): Growing Green, a pilot project addressing the issue of sustainable growth by engaging SME owners and managers; Growing Greener, on engaging with business advisors; and UKERC Phase 3, which looks at decision-making and how SMEs engage with energy. European projects include work on energy efficiency policy (ENSPOL); the multiple benefits of energy efficiency (IN-BEE); and the current and potential future roles for a range of professions as they react to the low-carbon renovation agenda (Building Expertise).

From 2005–10 Tina was a member of UK Energy Research Centre's demand reduction research team, conducting research on personal carbon trading, the role of heat pumps in the UK, and energy use in the higher education sector. 

Introduction to personal carbon trading research

Video transcript

In 2015, world leaders agreed to take on the world's most serious problem – climate change – with an ambitious goal limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To meet this reduction target we would need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere by about forty percent by 2030. Such a fast change would require radical solutions – not that kind of solution! Today, forty percent of carbon emissions are produced from the use of energy in the home and personal transportation, so reducing emissions by households is immensely important. How could this be achieved?

One innovative solution is personal carbon trading or PCT. Under a PCT policy, governments would set a personal and equal cap on emissions that would reduce gradually over time. Each individual would then receive the same yearly carbon allowance. People with low carbon lifestyles would use up their account slowly whereas people with high energy and carbon lifestyles would find their carbon account empties more quickly. Energy consumption would become more expensive once their allowance runs out. People who don't use up their allowance would be able to sell the remainder in the personal carbon market. This could benefit less well-off or greener people who generally consume less energy, and encourage people with more options to reduce their carbon footprint. For example they could insulate their homes better or switch to more energy-efficient appliances in transportation.

Dr. Yael Parag from IDC Herzliya and Dr. Tina Fawcett from Oxford University have been researching PCT. What would PCT look like in reality? How could PCT be both fair and effective? Would the public and politicians accept PCT? Parag and Fawcett argue that PCT would be effective as it taps into three powerful behavioural drivers. Economic – a carbon intensive lifestyle would be more expensive. Psychological – raising carbon awareness would motivate people to change their energy use habits and to prefer a lower carbon lifestyle. Social – the fact that everyone would have an equal allowance would set a new social norm around a shared effort to reduce carbon emissions and help limit climate change.

Researchers in several countries are already looking into this radical idea. Dr. Parag and Dr. Fawcett are continuing to develop it. They’re defining a research agenda and exploring how PCT, together with other policies, could help us become a low-carbon society.

Publications

Topouzi, M., Mallaburn, P. and Fawcett, T. (2023) Catalysing net-zero retrofit: feasibility of an innovative salary sacrifice scheme. Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions.
Bobrova, Y., Eyre, N., Fawcett, T., Nolden, C. and Papachristos, G. (2023) “Why don’t governments pay more attention to energy demand? investigating systemic reasons for the supply / demand asymmetry in energy policy”, in Proceedings of the British Institute of Energy Economics Research Conference (BIEE 2023). British Institute of Energy Economics.
Bobrova, Y., Eyre, N., Fawcett, T., Nolden, C. and Papachristos, G. (2023) “Demand/supply energy policy asymmetry in sustainability transitions: a meta-narrative review”, in.
Palmer, J., Boardman, B., Terry, N., Fawcett, T. and Narayan, U. (2023) Finding the fuel poor and framing better policy. Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford.
Hampton, S., Azzouz, L., Fawcett, T., Grunewald, P., Howey, D., Kumtepeli, V., Mould, T. and Rose, T. (2023) Energy Superhub Oxford: final report . Energy Superhub Oxford.
Bobrova, Y., Eyre, N., Fawcett, T., Nolden, C. and Papachristos, G. (2022) “Energy supply/demand policy asymmetry: a meta-narrative review for a systems explanation”, in.
Nolden, C., Eyre, N., Fawcett, T. and Bobrova, Y. (2022) “The role of energy demand in policymaking for a just transition to net zero: a comparative survey in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany”, in eceee 2022 Summer Study on energy efficiency: agents of change. European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.