Amidst the current attention on climate change, it’s clear that the avenue to reducing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere to a sustainable level must include a discussion on energy use in emerging markets and more developed economies.
Reductions in GHGs in major economic blocks such as the US, China, Western Europe and Russia are not sufficient in limiting temperature increases to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit in the atmosphere.
A quick session with the MIT En-ROADS simulator provides a clear-cut way to see how hard it will be to limit temperature rise to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit in the atmosphere if we only reduce GHGs in major economic blocks such as the US, China, Western Europe and Russia.
Our future depends on the path taken by some of the fastest growing economies of Asia and Africa. India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and more will need to take massive steps to decarbonise existing energy systems and develop within the most sustainable means possible, preferably with zero-carbon emissions profiles.
Populations are growing rapidly in these economies, with Africa’s population alone expected to increase by 801 million people by 2040. Globally, 860 billion people have no access to electricity while approximately one billion have limited access.
In areas where access has been increased, the cost for subsistence-level consumption (30kWh per month) is unaffordable, representing more than 5% of monthly income. It’s clear that a carbon-intensive pathway to energy access will be disastrous for these populations and the entire planet, and likely results in higher-cost solutions.
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