Energy Saving Day in the United Kingdom has produced no measurable results. While this is a blow to the “everyone recycle your used Coke cans and we will be fine” form of environmentalism, it is less surprising to people who have a sense of the scale of the climate issue and an awareness of the (in)effectiveness of past voluntary efforts.
Even if the day had been successful, it would have been more about displacement than reduction. Consider the much touted ‘Buy Nothing Day‘ espoused by certain rejectors of the dominant consumerist culture. Even among those who observe the occasion scrupulously, it is plausible that overall consumption doesn’t fall at all: it just gets displaced to the days before and after. Overall, the idea that serious societal issues can be tackled through 24 hours of voluntary abstinence by a handful of devotees is profoundly flawed.
What is the alternative? Price carbon and de-carbonize infrastructure.