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drumbo

Would reducing carbon emissions prematurely result in poverty and suffering?

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Chapter 2 in the IPCC special report of global warming of 1.5 °C https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/chapter-2/ outlines a goal to to bring net carbon emissions down to 0. There is no technology that currently exists which would allow us to maintain our current level of energy consumption in this scenario. Not only are fossil fuels much more efficient than any other alternatives (in terms of cost and time to produce), they are more portable as well (in terms of the ease of transporting the fuel and the ease of storing it).

It is likely that many people would suffer if we slashed energy consumption prematurely. In the article "Shifts to renewable energy can drive up energy poverty, study finds" https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190712151926.htm. their findings, published recently in the journal Energy Research & Social Science, support previous claims by researchers who argue that renewable energy consumption may be indirectly driving energy poverty. Energy poverty is when a household has no or inadequate access to energy services such as heating, cooling, lighting, and use of appliances due to a combination of factors: low income, increasing utility rates, and inefficient buildings and appliances.

In addition, according to a World Bank report, “poor and middle-income countries already account for just over half of total carbon emissions.” And this percentage will only rise as developing countries grow. Achieving a global society in which all citizens earn a living wage and climate catastrophe is averted requires breaking the link between economic growth and increasing carbon emissions in developing countries.

Today, most developing countries that decrease their poverty rates also have increased rates of carbon emissions. In East Asia and the Pacific, the number of people living in extreme poverty declined from 1.1 billion to 161 million between 1981 and 2011—an 85% decrease. In this same time period, the amount of carbon dioxide per capita rose from 2.1 tons per capita to 5.9 tons per capita—a 185% increase.

South Asia saw similar changes during this time frame. As the number of people living in extreme poverty decreased by 30%, the amount of carbon dioxide increased by 204%.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people living in poverty increased by 98% in this thirty-year span, while carbon dioxide per capita decreased by 17%. Given the current energy situation, if sub-Saharan Africans are to escape extreme poverty, they will have to increase their carbon use—unless developed countries step in to offer clean alternatives.

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Here we go again; poverty is about more than just a lack of money... 😉

I sincerely hope you never find out why!!!

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2 hours ago, drumbo said:

Chapter 2 in the IPCC special report of global warming of 1.5 °C https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/chapter-2/ outlines a goal to to bring net carbon emissions down to 0. There is no technology that currently exists which would allow us to maintain our current level of energy consumption in this scenario. Not only are fossil fuels much more efficient than any other alternatives (in terms of cost and time to produce), they are more portable as well (in terms of the ease of transporting the fuel and the ease of storing it).

Not a good start. Solar and wind are cheaper.

 

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It is likely that many people would suffer if we slashed energy consumption prematurely. In the article "Shifts to renewable energy can drive up energy poverty, study finds" https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190712151926.htm. their findings, published recently in the journal Energy Research & Social Science, support previous claims by researchers who argue that renewable energy consumption may be indirectly driving energy poverty. Energy poverty is when a household has no or inadequate access to energy services such as heating, cooling, lighting, and use of appliances due to a combination of factors: low income, increasing utility rates, and inefficient buildings and appliances.

That article doesn’t say that energy consumption is being slashed. (you have a bad link, BTW)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190712151926.htm

 

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In addition, according to a World Bank report, “poor and middle-income countries already account for just over half of total carbon emissions.” And this percentage will only rise as developing countries grow. Achieving a global society in which all citizens earn a living wage and climate catastrophe is averted requires breaking the link between economic growth and increasing carbon emissions in developing countries.

It won’t rise if they install green energy.

 

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Today, most developing countries that decrease their poverty rates also have increased rates of carbon emissions. In East Asia and the Pacific, the number of people living in extreme poverty declined from 1.1 billion to 161 million between 1981 and 2011—an 85% decrease. In this same time period, the amount of carbon dioxide per capita rose from 2.1 tons per capita to 5.9 tons per capita—a 185% increase.

South Asia saw similar changes during this time frame. As the number of people living in extreme poverty decreased by 30%, the amount of carbon dioxide increased by 204%.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people living in poverty increased by 98% in this thirty-year span, while carbon dioxide per capita decreased by 17%. Given the current energy situation, if sub-Saharan Africans are to escape extreme poverty, they will have to increase their carbon use—unless developed countries step in to offer clean alternatives.

And that last part is easier, now that wind and solar are cheaper sources of electricity. One problem here is that you are basing your “argument” on old data. What was true in the 1980s is not necessarily true today

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Posted (edited)

@drumbo

For the most part mainstream plan or policy for transition to zero emission is NOT based on enforced energy poverty; high emissions infrastructure is not being prematurely closed without alternatives in place. Better policy, that accounts for potential inequality, is the best result emerging from studies that show potential for inequality.

Climate policy, for all the lies that are made about it by climate responsibility denying opponents, is not about reducing prosperity, it is about preserving it in the face of accumulating and economically damaging global warming.

I note that it is often people who have shown no enduring interest in reducing poverty or inequality who argue against climate action on the basis that reduced fossil fuel use increases them - many of whom, from lives of extraordinary plenty, fiercely oppose accountability and affordable carbon pricing on their emissions. Justified very often by claims the science on climate must be wrong.

Assumption that the consequences and costs of continued rising emissions are not significant and therefore emissions reductions are not necessary requires turning aside from the mainstream science based expert advice. For people in positions of trust and responsibility to fail to heed the expert advice is dangerously irresponsible and negligent.

But Alarmist - as in unfounded - economic fear of reducing and ultimately reaching near zero fossil fuel burning - has been a potent argument used to impede the legitimate policies and actions of those seeking ways to net zero emissions and the OP looks like an example. If you believe that a shift away from high emissions energy to low is a threat solely because it introduces change then that is an alarmist position.

From the linked article -
 

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Alternatively, in poorer nations, renewable sources of electricity have been used to alleviate energy poverty. In rural areas in southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a solar farm can give an agrarian community access to electricity that historically never had access to energy, McGee said.

"That's not having any impact on carbon dioxide emissions because those rural communities never used fossil fuels in the first place," he said.

 

I would have to disagree with that last sentence from McGee - not using fossil fuels in the first place means avoided future emissions by alleviating energy poverty in those communities by other means than fossil fuels.

Edited by Ken Fabian

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