Decent Living Energy

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Energy and emissions thresholds for providing decent living standards to all.

There is confusion surrounding how poverty eradication will contribute to climate change. This is due to knowledge gaps related to the material basis of poverty, and the relationship between energy and human development. Addressing this issue rigorously requires bridging gaps between global justice, economics, energy systems analysis, and industrial ecology, and applying this knowledge to projections of anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

Project Description

This project develops a body of knowledge and model framework to quantify the energy needs and related climate change impacts of eradicating poverty and providing decent living standards to all in major emerging economies, such as India, Brazil, South Africa and others. The research will address three questions. Which goods and services, and with what characteristics, constitute ‘decent living standards’? What energy resources are required to provide these goods and services in different countries, and what impact will this energy use have on climate change? How do the constituents of decent living and their energy needs evolve as countries develop? This research will identify opportunities to shift developing societies towards low-carbon pathways, and substantiate countries’ claims for ‘carbon space’ for development.

The overarching analytical framework can be seen in the figure below:

Figure 1. State of the art (green) and the ‘Decent Living Energy’ (blue) approach to assessing the greenhouse gas impacts of poverty eradication.

Project Method

The project is highly interdisciplinary, with different work streams employing different methods. The project includes household energy and carbon footprinting using lifecycle and input-output analysis; normative analysis of the constituents of decent living using expert elicitation, empirical analysis of historical consumption patterns; econometric and statistics analysis of household consumption drivers; integrated assessment modeling to develop emissions pathways related to ‘decent living’. 

DLE Team:

IIASA team: Narasimha Rao (Principal Investigator), Shonali Pachauri, Alessio Mastrucci, Jihoon Min, Simon Parkinson, Edward Byers, Miguel Poblete Cazenave, Keywan Riahi 

This project is supported by European Research Council Starting Grant 2014 (ERC-2014-STG).

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Last edited: 18 June 2019


Narasimha Rao

Senior Research Scholar Transformative Institutional and Social Solutions Research Group - Energy, Climate, and Environment Program


June 2015 - June 2018


International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313