Title: From Poverty to Prosperity: The Real Energy Transition

Scott W. Tinker

The University of Texas at Austin, United States of America

Event: GeoKarlsruhe 2021

Date: 2021

DOI: 10.48380/dggv-h9fr-ta60

The energy dialog varies by economic status. Western Europe and the United States suggest there is clean and renewable vs dirty and non-renewable energy, and further that clean energy is cheaper than dirty energy. In this narrative, carbon neutral drives the dialog. Some propose to eliminate coal, oil and even natural gas and nuclear altogether, and suggest that solar, wind and batteries can power the world and address climate change. The IEA just released a report on how net zero carbon might be accomplished by 2050. Notwithstanding the assumptions, which require scale and magnitude changes never before seen, the greater underlying assumption is that the emerging and developing world will participate. A different narrative exists in much of the rest of the world, led most profoundly by SE Asia, but also Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and to some degree Russia. Here billions of people seek affordable and reliable energy to lift themselves into economic prosperity. Here the energy transition is best interpreted by examining actions, not rhetoric. Emerging and developing economies have acted to feed their substantial and growing energy appetite with coal and hydro, with natural gas and nuclear growing, and solar and wind getting started but still very small relative to total consumption. Further, although the environmental concerns of the developing world include climate, they are more acutely focused on economic growth, which will then allow them to curb population growth as has been done in the US and Western Europe, and begin to reduce pollution of water, soil, and air. Given this dialog duality, a truly sustainable energy future must eradicate energy poverty while also going nature neutral-- minimizing the impacts of all forms of energy on air, land, water, and the atmosphere.

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