How much energy does it take to achieve human well-being?

Living Well Within Limits (LiLi), an ambitious, multi-disciplinary, multi-national research project launched this month at Leeds, aims to answer this question.


The five-year project will investigate:

  • what natural resources – specifically energy – are needed to achieve human well-being
  • how our calculation of the resources we need is affected by technical systems, such as land use and supply chains, and social systems, such as culture and markets
  • how do we best use the planet’s limited resources to achieve well-being

The project will draw on environmental, engineering, economic and social sciences expertise and will involve researchers not just from across the Leeds campus but from numerous UK and international institutions, including:

University of Cambridge
University of Oxford
School of Oriental and African Studies, London
London School of Economics
University of Manchester
Oxfam research team

Mercator Research Institute, Berlin
University of Lausanne
University of Oslo
Brown University, US

Dr Julia Steinberger from the School of Earth and Environment, has been awarded a £1m Leverhulme Research Leadership Award to lead the project team.

Dr Steinberger said: "The LiLi project represents a unique opportunity to connect the main challenges of our time: prioritising human development and well-being, and reducing environmental impacts to levels which do not endanger our survival on this planet. Human well-being has usually been the concern of social science, but we now see the need to bring in ideas and measures from natural and physical sciences, as well as radically different economic concepts to bridge the gap between the society and environment."

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