A new study has found that if the global energy consumption were to be cut by 60% by the year 2050, 10 billion people could still benefit from decent living conditions.
A group of scientists at the University of Leeds estimated how much energy would be needed to provide basic human requirements like food, water, mobility, shelter and hygiene, to the world. Other, more modern necessities were also factored in such as high-quality healthcare, education and access to technology including phones, computers and the internet.
This study found that reasonable standards of living could actually be provided to a growing global population for less than 40% of the energy used in the world today. This means that clean and sustainable energy could easily be sufficient for the expected 10 billion people living on our planet by 2050.
Today, only 17% of global energy consumption is sourced from non-fossil fuels. But that is almost half of what we estimate is needed to provide a decent standard of living for everyone in 2050.
Radical Changes Don’t Mean We Need to Live in the Dark Ages
What mainly needs to be reduced, is the overconsumption by the world’s wealthiest people. This would allow for global and national inequalities to be flattened. We need to move away from the idea that “more is better”. Energy consumption would need to be cut by nearly 95% countries with the highest consumption per person. To create this vision, radical changes to all aspects of our lives would need to be made – but this does not mean a “return to the dark ages”.
It is worth re-examining what that way of life should entail. The study estimates for more energy to be used by those in very hot or very cold countries, in order to keep indoor temperatures comfortable. It also allows for more travel for those in remote areas. People would still have an adequately sized house, access to clean hot and cold water, a washing machine, fridge-freezer, laptop and smartphone.
The team involved in the study also included enough hospitals and schools for universal access and proposed three times as much public transport for the wealthiest countries.
Providing a decent life for everyone while still protecting our climate and ecosystems is clearly within our grasp.