New Technology Could Spur Economic Growth / without Increasing Energy Consumption

By Jeff Nesmith, Cox News Service | THE JOURNAL RECORD, September 22, 1987 | Go to article overview

New Technology Could Spur Economic Growth / without Increasing Energy Consumption


Jeff Nesmith, Cox News Service, THE JOURNAL RECORD


WASHINGTONNew energy-saving technologies, such as a superinsulated house and a car that gets 98 miles per gallon, could mean world economic growth can be sustained at the current rate through 2020 without any increase in energy consumption, according to a new report.

Energy-efficient technologies already in existence could reduce per capita energy use in industrial countries by 50 percent while economic growth continues, according to the report, ``Energy for a Sustainable World.''

Developing countries could reach the standard of living enjoyed in the mid-1970s by Western Europe with only a modest 30 percent increase in per capita energy consumption, the report states.

``Our analysis indicates that the global population could roughly double, that living standards could be improved far beyond satisfying basic needs in developing countries and that economic growth in the industrialized countries could continue without increase in the level of global energy use in 2020 much above the present level,'' said authors of the study.

Written by an international team from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the University of Lund, Sweden, the Indian Institute of Science and Princeton University, the report was released last week by the World Resources Institute here.

The authors' findings are in stark contrast to the view that economic growth is tied to energy consumption. The latter view has resulted in global energy projections that increase from two- to three-fold by 2020.

Traditional energy projections attempt to establish a relationship between energy use and economic growth, then extend this figure into the future. The study released last week concentrates on the end uses of energy and asks how those needs can be met more efficiently.

Benefits of a low-energy future would be many, the study concluded.

Three major problems might be eased: insecurity arising from overdependence by industrial countries on Middle East oil, the threat of global climate change from the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation that accompanies the spread of nuclear power around the world. …

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