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The world is currently facing two socio-technical transitions: shifting to a low-carbon society, and a digital revolution. The spread and adoption of ICT does not automatically lead to reduction in energy demand, if this stimulates new energy-using practices or wider economic growth. Despite this policy challenge, the two transitions are often considered separately. This study examines potential drivers of reductions or increases in energy demand due to digitalisation, as identified in recent leading global and UK net zero transitions scenarios. These include direct effects; indirect and rebound effects relating to home energy use and transport; and effects on economic growth. Specific effects of digitalisation on energy demand are then identified, which reflect projections in the scenarios. These imply that the future pathways adopted for digitalisation will have a significant impact on future energy demand and hence on the feasibility and acceptability of achieving net zero goals. Our main method is coding by searching for quantitative and qualitative statements in the scenarios relevant to digitalisation and energy. Our initial findings point to a variety of drivers and assumptions that affect energy demand via digitalisation. These include user engagement with technology, consumer awareness and new user roles as prosumers; technological evolution including efficiency and longevity of devices, and changes to number of devices, usage and data; patterns of energy demand; business models and more. In upcoming research, we will engage with stakeholders from business and industry, academia, government and the third sector to consider the plausibility of different drivers of digitalisation, in order to better inform policy. This suggests opportunities for further research and improving policy interactions between these two transitions, and stimulating greater public debate on the different framings for an ICT-driven low carbon transition.

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Lightning talk delivered at SciTS virtual conference 2020

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First published in 1997, This book presents a detailed analysis of the Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) policy process. Using developments in the late nineties in the public policy literature to analyse and produce answers to why the government introduced IPC and how has IPC policy been implemented.

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