Linking Energy Consumption and Human Development Index

Now to connect Energy Consumption and Social Justice using the HDI (Human Development Index), which is how this ties into my major. HDI

I found a 2007 UN report on human development and connecting it to energy. I highly recommend it.

The paper discusses energy inequality between developed and developing countries. In developing countries many people do not have access to clean cheap energy. This is what as known as energy poverty. The UN defines energy poverty as the “inability to cook with modern cooking fuels and the lack of a bare minimum of electric lighting to read or for other household and productive activities at sunset” (UNDP 2005). Basically, people in developing countries cook their food using biomass (wood) using inefficient stoves/burners that pollute and cause health issues.

While developing countries are investing in energy production, the energy is used for industry and commercial use, urban use, and export. Yet the need lies with the rural and poor populations.

This graph from the UN report shows the per capita energy consumption by region. As you can see the US consumes 3 times the global average while Africa consumes about 1/3 of the average.

I found this on another site. This graph utilizes UN data. It shows how developed countries consume a large amount of energy and also have a higher HDI. Yet after a point, consumption does not improve HDI. The developing countries which have less access to energy have a lower HDI.

I’m not trying to belittle the US and their consumption (that’s for another type of blog). Rather I’m using the US as a frame of reference for understanding the rest of the world. There is a minimum amount of energy needed to improve HDI, lower poverty rates, and improve standard of living. There is also a point where consumption does not improve standard of living…nor happiness (yet another blog to write).

Without this minimum level of energy those in poverty are at risk for disasters. Risk indicators can all be influenced by access to energy. Standard of living, living in marginal (risky) environments, exploitation of natural resources in fragile ecosystems, low childhood education, gender inequalities in education and employment, health issues from indoor pollution cause by ineffective fuel sources, lack of health care, all can be influenced by improvements in access to clean efficient energy sources.


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