Global energy consumption could drop without lowering standard of living

Global energy consumption in 2050 could be reduced to the levels of the 1960s and still provide a decent standard of living for a population three times larger, according to a new study from the University of Leeds.

The study led by the University of Leeds has estimated the energy resource needed for everyone to be provided decent living standards in 2050 – meaning all their basic human needs such as shelter, mobility, food and hygiene are met, while also having access to modern, high quality healthcare, education and information technology, explains a statement.

The findings reveal that decent living standards could be provided to the entire global population of 10 billion that is expected to be reached by 2050, for less than 40% of today’s global energy. This is roughly 25% of that forecast by the International Energy Agency if current trends continue.

This level of global energy consumption is roughly the same as that during the 1960s, when the population was only three billion.

The authors emphasise that achieving this would require sweeping changes in current consumption, widespread deployment of advanced technologies, and the elimination of mass global inequalities.

The study calculated minimum final energy requirements, both direct and indirect, to provide decent living standards.

Study lead author Dr Joel Millward-Hopkins said: “Currently, only 17% of global final energy consumption is from non-fossil fuel sources. But that is nearly 50% of what we estimate is needed to provide a decent standard of living for all in 2050.”

Credit: Josué Goge/ Flickr Creative Commons

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