From the houses we live in to the food we eat and the education we receive, living a good life requires materials and energy. For many, this means an increase in wellbeing requires an increase in resource use. This necessity has been used by some commentators to argue that eradicating poverty is at odds with the need to reduce emissions and tackle climate change. Yet, despite the clear importance of linking the two goals of poverty eradication and climate action, climate mitigation scenarios rarely consider the energy needs for human wellbeing. In our new study, published in Environmental Research Letters, we look at the current status of multiple material and service deprivations and calculate the energy required to provide “decent living standards” (DLS) to all – including to build the infrastructure to reach those that still lack them. We find that, on a global scale, supporting DLS for all would require roughly a quarter of projected world energy demand by mid-century, though the share would be larger in regions with the highest poverty levels. These figures also apply to scenarios where energy demand growth is squeezed to achieve ambitious climate goals. The overall implication is that the energy needs for poverty eradication are unlikely to pose a threat for climate mitigation.
Carbon Brief 2nd Sept 2021 read more »