Better Quality of Life For All With Lower Climate Impact is Possible: CStep

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The biggest concern for climate change enthusiasts around the world is how badly will the Earth be worse off when one billion poor in India or elsewhere move up to middle class living standards. Conventional thinkers are expecting a catastrophe.

In contrast, a recent study by a Bengaluru-based think tank CStep (Centre for Science, Technology and Policy) proves that if the life-style aspirations of the poor are met with sustainable ways of living, the negative impact by
2030 could be 25% lower than business as usual. It has asked India to announce a ‘Quality of Life Pathway’ at
the earliest.

A new study by CStep titled ‘Quality of Life for All: A Sustainable Development Framework for India’s Climate Policy,’ provides detailed analyses showing that quality of life for everyone can improve along a pathway in which greenhouse gas emissions and energy intensity reduction are co-benefits.

This study places sustainable development at the centre of India’s development strategy and asks if we could take a development approach that reduces air pollution, improves fresh water availability, enhances energy services, promotes efficiency in resource-use, provides cleaner cooking fuels, and facilitates food security. When such an approach is adopted, with affordable low-emissions technology choices, what does it do for greenhouse gas emissions and energy intensity?

Such a sustainable development (SD) path for 2030 was compared alongside a Business as Usual (BAU) or Policy as Usual Pathway for 2030. The results show that we can signifi cantly improve quality of life in the SD pathway. Furthermore, in the SD scenario, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 27 % and energy use by 25% in comparison to BAU.

Dr. Sujatha Byravan, one of the authors of the report, says: “We have been able to demonstrate an inclusive development pathway in which there is reduction in pollutant emissions and enhanced clean energy access. At the same time, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 16% compared to 2012, while fossil free
sources contribute 32 % of our electricity generation by 2030.”

The study builds on the India Energy Security Scenarios (IESS), a platform developed by NITI Aayog, to evaluate the energy demand and supply scenario of various sectors such as agriculture, buildings, industries, power
and transport. Further, a bottom-up energy system model (TIMES-MARKAL) was used to examine several combinations of technology and policy options based on constrained optimization. This ensures that the SD pathway is strictly relevant to national and international contexts.

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