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Energy poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation: is there a trade off?

Energy poverty alleviation has become an important political issue. Several initiatives and policies have been proposed to deal with poor access to modern sources of energy in developing countries. However, this paper argues that an important question is whether providing universal access to energy could significantly increase carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. It analyses this problem by means of a simple but robust model of current and future energy consumption. The model allows mapping energy consumption globally for different classes of energy use, quantifying current and future imbalances in the distribution of energy consumption. The results indicate that an energy poverty eradication policy to be met by 2030 would increase global final energy consumption by about seven per cent. The additional energy infrastructure needed to eradicate energy poverty would produce 16-131 GtCO2 over the 21st century and contribute at most 0.1 degrees Celsius of additional warming.