Expanding access to household electricity services accounts for only a small portion of total emission growth, shows a new study from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), shedding light on an ongoing debate on potential conflicts between climate and development.
Improving household electricity access in India over the last 30 years contributed only marginally to the nation’s total carbon emissions growth during that time, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
“Energy access is fundamental to development: it brings improvements to all aspects of life, including education, communication, and health,” says IIASA researcher Shonali Pachauri, who conducted the study.
While increased energy access is widely agreed to be an important goal for development efforts, such as the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, the climate impacts of increased access to electricity have been unclear. The new study is the first to examine the impact of electricity access on carbon dioxide emissions using two sources of retrospective data.
“This study shows that the climate impacts of expanding access are in fact very small,” says Pachauri. However, she adds, expanding low-carbon energy technologies in developing countries would bring many co-benefits beyond climate mitigation.
Pachauri used India as a case study because while the country still lacks electricity access for much of its population—around 400 million people—it has vastly increased access in the last 30 years. From 1981 to 2011, household electricity access in the country improved from around 25% to between 67-74% of the population, an increase of approximately 650 million people.
“India is at a similar stage to many other developing countries in terms of energy access” says Pachauri, “So we believe that these findings will be applicable on a broad scale to other developing countries.”
Using two data sources, the study found that improved electricity access in India from 1981 to 2011 accounted for approximately 50 million tons of CO2, or 3-4% of the rise in total national CO2 emissions.
Since electrification also tends to lead to increased wealth and participation in the economy, it can also lead to additional increases in emissions from indirect energy use through consumption.
Pachauri found that when she took these factors into account, household electricity use would account for 156 to 363 million tons CO2, or 11 to 25% of emissions growth in the country. However, even with increased electricity use, Indian households still use less electricity than Chinese households, and less than 10% of households in the United States.
Researchers say that even though the emissions growth from expanded energy access is small, low carbon energy sources have additional benefits for developing countries and should be encouraged. Previous IIASA research including the 2012 Global Energy Assessment has shown a broad array of co-benefits from expanding low-carbon, sustainable energy technologies.
Pachauri says, “Low-carbon energy sources bring improved health, efficiency, and can also bring benefits to the economy and employment. And if international climate policies are introduced later, more investment in low-carbon energy sources would mean that developing countries are not locked-in to fossil fuel power and higher costs in the future.”
Pachauri, S. 2014. Household electricity access a trivial contributor to CO2 emissions growth in India. Nature Climate Change DOI:10.1038/nclimate2414.
For more information please contact:
Senior Research Scholar
+43(0) 2236 807 475
IIASA Press Office
Tel: +43 2236 807 316
Mob: +43 676 83 807 316
IIASA is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policy makers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by scientific institutions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. www.iiasa.ac.at
Katherine Leitzell | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells
17.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH
Behavior-influencing policies are critical for mass market success of low carbon vehicles
17.07.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
17.07.2018 | Information Technology
17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering