Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Energy is development (not just, but also)

In a previous post I suggested that the process of development might not necessarily lead to a great increase of energy per capita consumption (based on the work by Smil). Note, however, that presumes a significant increase in efficiency. The other side of the coin is the lack of access to energy in several developing countries, particularly South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, as can be seen in the graph below (source here, h/t The Economist).
This suggests that the distributive problem (between developed and developing countries) is at the heart of any real reduction of consumption per capita, since one might expect that (even with more efficient technologies) in developing countries, catching up will necessarily lead to higher levels of per capita consumption of energy.


  1. Matias is an ecological economist!

  2. The inherent problem is what you have said in the past, interpreting the jevons paradox as a substitution, not an income effect.

  3. On a similar note, the problem with many advocators of the degrowth hypothesis often fail to answer crucial parts of skeptics’ arguments, and instead assume their conclusions - see


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