Sam Betts-Davies

Sam Betts-Davies


I am presently studying for a PhD in ecological economics investigating the relationships between inequality reduction and low energy demand futures in the UK.

Previously, I have worked as a research assistant in the Centre for Research in Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) in the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, a role I maintain alongside my PhD studies.

I support the delivery of a variety of interdisciplinary collaborative projects within the Materials & Products CREDS research team, pulling from the fields of energy modelling, ecological economics and the broader social sciences.

I hold a BA (Hons) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and an MSc in Climate Change and Environmental Policy, both from the University of Leeds. 

Research interests

My PhD title is Understanding the impact of household income, consumption and energy-use redistribution on UK energy demand and CO2 emissions reduction. 

Ensuring a decent quality of life for all is an essential aim of any socially and ecologically sustainable future. However, at present, no country is currently providing high levels of social performance whilst remaining in planetary boundaries (O’Neill et al., 2018; Fanning et al., 2021).

Underpinning a decent quality of life are material needs, which require the provision of essential energy services irrespective of income (Narasimha D Rao and Min, 2018; Millward-Hopkins et al., 2020). However, simply increasing access to energy services to those who need them, ceteris paribus, will increase total energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions when they need to be reduced rapidly.

Therefore, ensuring decent living standards within planetary boundaries it is not simply a case of increasing energy service access for all but reducing excessive use of energy in high income groups at the same time. Understanding the extent to which redistributing economic inequalities can support quality of life whilst facilitating sustainable transitions to a low carbon society is the key research interest of my PhD. 

Beyond my PhD, as part of the CREDS consortium, I have wider research interests in other elements of low energy futures. I was part of the research team that produced Positive Low Energy Futures scenarios, modelling the energy demand reduction potential in the UK, whilst maintaining quality of life. The implications of low energy futures on society, the implementation of low energy futures and the political economy of low energy futures are key research interests stemming from this work.


  • BA Hons in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
  • MSc in Climate Change and Environmental Policy

Research groups and institutes

  • Sustainability Research Institute