Access to cheap and sustainable energy is the key to coping with population growth without destroying our environment . A study from the University of Leeds shows that this is not only possible but that we can do it and at the same time raise the standard of living of billions of people until 2050.
Researchers have calculated how much energy we need for ten billion people to have all their basic needs met and to be able to live a really comfortable life materially. It turns out that we do not even need more energy than today. Instead, researchers say that 40 percent of the energy we produce today is enough. We are then down to the same level as in the 1960s.
The researchers then expect that new technology will give us more energy-efficient solutions and more efficient generation and distribution of energy. But it also requires a redistribution of energy use. The most energy-saving countries today could reduce their energy consumption by as much as 95 percent and still give all citizens a comfortable standard of living.
- Our study is in line with the perception that there are already technical solutions to reduce energy consumption to a sustainable level. What we are contributing is to show that the material sacrifices that are needed are significantly less than what is often claimed, says Joel Millward-Hopkins, lead author of the study.
We in the rich countries might then need to lower our level of luxury, but we would still be very well off. In addition, we would probably meet the world's energy needs through renewable sources. Already today, we produce, according to the researchers' calculations, 50 percent of the energy needed in 2050 with renewable methods. Doubling that figure in 30 years is not going to be impossible.