Europe should cap ‘luxury’ energy use to meet emissions targets, study says
Ajit Niranjan writes in The Guardian about a new study showing that limiting demand of the top 20% of European energy consumers -- the so-called "luxury" demand -- saves seven times the greenhouse gases required to meet needs of the bottom 20%.
In a nutshell:
Researchers modeled the impact of reducing the energy use gap between households across Europe and found that capping luxury energy demand reduced emissions by 9.7%, while increasing energy demand for those in poverty only raised emissions by 1.4%. The study emphasizes the need to address luxury energy use to achieve an equitable carbon budget while enabling low-income households to meet their energy needs.
“The study confirms that energy demand reductions can contribute significantly to climate change mitigation, even as poorer households are lifted out of energy poverty,” said Felix Creutzig, an IPCC author and professor of sustainability economics at the Technical University of Berlin.
The big picture:
The unequal distribution of the health impacts of fossil fuel emissions underscores the urgency of transitioning to cleaner and renewable energy sources to protect the well-being of vulnerable populations. Fossil fuel emissions pose significant health dangers due to their contribution to air pollution. The combustion of fossil fuels releases harmful pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds, which can have detrimental effects on respiratory health and increase the risk of respiratory diseases such as asthma. Lower-income communities often bear the brunt of these health risks as they are more likely to live in areas with higher levels of pollution, closer to industrial sites or busy roadways.
Read the article in The Guardian.
To learn more about manifestations of energy injustice in the US, check out Lily Carey's piece for EHN about how utilities’ fossil fuel investments are driving up rates for the most vulnerable.