The World Socialist Movement (WSM) has always argued that when it comes to socialism solving the climate crises, allowances must be made to uplift the poor (including those inside the so-called affluent countries) and provide them with a decent living standard. It may mean economic growth when our long-term aim is still to decrease production levels albeit we expect it to be compensated with reductions in socially unnecessary and ecological wasteful manufacturing and services such as military and the buying and selling sectors. For the undeveloped and developing countries, economic growth is urgent and crucial for their populations' well-being.
New research, published in Environmental Research Letters, studied deprivation and calculated the energy required to provide “decent living standards” (DLS) to all – including to build the infrastructure to reach those that still lack them. Their conclusion is that the increase in energy provision required for poverty eradication does not, in itself, pose a threat to mitigating climate change on a global scale.
“The good news from recent research is that essential energy needs to meet everyone's basic needs, framed as "decent living standards" (DLS), could constitute a small share of projected energy growth…”
On a global scale, it would require roughly a quarter of projected world energy demand by mid-century. In order to provide DLS for all by 2040, energy provisioning for basic needs in some poor countries would at least have to double by 2030 and triple by 2040, even if all energy growth were directed solely towards poverty eradication efforts. The construction of new buildings and transport infrastructure are the biggest factors in providing new services.
To fill the gaps in basic provision would require an extra 68 exajoules (EJ) of energy on a global basis, or about another 5 gigajoules (GJ) per person on average. These figures can be compared with the current total global energy demand of more than 400EJ and the average per person of about 55GJ. The construction of new buildings and transport infrastructure are the biggest factors in providing new services. This construction energy, at about 12EJ per year, is, however, much smaller than the annual needs to operate services on an ongoing basis.
The research shows that current global energy consumption is already, in principle, sufficient to provide everyone with a decent life. But this will happen only if there is a stronger focus on providing the energy to serve basic needs rather than growing affluence.
The authors explain, “Our research shows that current global energy consumption is already, in principle, sufficient to provide everyone with a decent life. But this will happen only if there is a stronger focus on providing the energy to serve basic needs rather than growing affluence.
For instance, while global energy supply under pathways that limit global temperature increase to 1.5C is more than enough to provide for basic needs, as well as some affluence, projected DLS [decent living standards]energy needs for some regions and countries can go up to or exceed half of the total. (Faster energy efficiency improvements would reduce this ratio.)
Together, this means that while eradicating multidimensional poverty is compatible with ambitious climate targets, it does likely require a shift towards more equitable energy, climate and development policies, both within and between countries.”