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Introducing the energy-fertility nexus in population projections: can universal access to modern energy lead to energy savings?


Belmin,  Camille
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Belmin, C. (2021): Introducing the energy-fertility nexus in population projections: can universal access to modern energy lead to energy savings?, (IIASA YSSP Report), Laxenburg : International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), 19 p.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_26968
In a climate- constrained world, understanding the energy needs to reach universal access to modern energy is critical. This requires making assumptions on future population trajectories, and developments in energy access can affect them. Yet, this feedback has never been accounted for in energy models. Access to modern energy leads to fertility decline as it reduces child mortality, improves health, increases women’s access to information, education and employment. In this paper, we assess the household energy requirements to expand energy access while considering the relationship between energy access and fertility, using Zambia as a case study. To do so, we built a micro-simulation model of population projection in which fertility depends on access to modern energy and education level, and projected the electricity and cooking energy needs of the Zambian population to 2050, under different scenarios. We find that while the electricity consumption is higher in the universal access scenario compared to the baseline scenario, total energy demand is 67% lower, partly due to strong decline in the use inefficient traditional cooking fuels. We also find that reduced population growth due to expanded energy access and education accounts for 15% of this reduction in rural areas, and 8% overall. Although the challenge of achieving universal access to modern energy seems daunting, our results suggest that this goal could be co-beneficial to achieving climate goals. Our study also reveals that accounting for the energy-population nexus in energy models will scale down the currently assumed energy needs to ensure decent well-being for all.