British scientists have built an energy-model to evaluate the global population's needs in terms of energy consumption by 2050. Their study showed that our global energy consumption could be reduced to the levels of the 1960s, when the Earth counted 3 million inhabitants, and still provide a decent standard of living to all. But radical changes would have to be implemented in the meantime.
The team of researchers from the University of Leeds published their conclusions in G lobal Environmental Change. Their scientific model was based upon data and comparisons from 119 countries worldwide. They calculated minimum final energy requirements to provide decent living standards (heating, petrol, electricity, WiFi…) to the entire population (projected to be 10 billion people in 2050).
The authors note that achieving such consumption cuts would require radical changes in our current daily habits, especially in the West. Widespread deployment of advanced technologies would be necessary, as well as the elimination of mass global inequalities.
"We find that, with a combination of the most efficient technologies available and radical demand-side transformations that reduce excess consumption to sufficiency-levels, the final energy requirements for providing decent living standards to the global population in 2050 could be over 60% lower than consumption today," reads the study.
"Overall, our study is consistent with the long-standing arguments that the technological solutions already exist to support reducing energy consumption to a sustainable level. What we add is that the material sacrifices needed for these reductions are far smaller than many popular narratives imply," states lead author Joel Millward-Hopkins, from the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds University.