The Energy, Growth and Pollution network was established in 2003 to link together historians working on the history of energy use and its consequences for the economy and environment in Europe from c.1500 to the present. Countries currently covered by the group’s work include Sweden, Italy, Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Germany. The group also collaborates with other scholars working in the field of energy history.
The first stage of the group’s work has consisted of developing a common methodology for quantifying energy inputs into the economy and publishing datasets as the basis for further research, including the first detailed and reliable quantification of consumption of ‘traditional’ energy carriers in the pre-industrial and modern era for a wide range of countries. This provides a reliable quantitative basis for investigation of the role of energy in economic growth, especially the impact and cause of transition between ‘energy carriers’ (wood, coal, oil, natural gas, etc.), reflecting renewed interest in the ‘microeconomic’ foundations of development and the role of resources in facilitating certain regional and national growth trajectories at particular historical moments. Other areas of study include the relationship between energy consumption and income levels in the long-term (energy intensity); CO2 emissions and energy use; prospect for climate change mitigation; energy carrier transitions; and the relationship between technological change and energy consumption.
The Group receives support from the Global Euronet and the Joint Centre for History and Economicsat Magdalene College and King's College, University of Cambridge.