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Global scenarios of household access to modern energy services under climate mitigation policy


Emission reduction scenarios to meet climate change mitigation policy goals rarely explore the differential impact of alternative pathways on access to energy for different economic strata of society across countries. Here we show that even under optimistic socioeconomic growth scenarios, inequalities in use of modern energy in homes could persist. We find that, although access improves in high growth scenarios, over 10% of populations in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia could lack access to energy services for thermal comfort, food preparation and conservation, and cleaning in 2050. Ambitious climate mitigation scenarios do not substantially alter household access to energy services in the Global South, and only affect gas consumption in high-income regions. Our work suggests that efforts to meet climate mitigation policy goals are not at odds with progress towards universal access to modern energy services in the Global South, however, directed policy will be needed to meet access goals.

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Fig. 1: Residential final energy consumption of modern energy by region and scenario between 2010 and 2050.
Fig. 2: Distribution of modern final household energy use per capita across populations in each region by scenario in 2050.
Fig. 3: Share of population with access to key end-use services in the home in baseline scenarios by region.
Fig. 4: Access to end-use services by income group for baseline SSP scenarios in Global South regions in 2050.
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Data availability

Links to the micro datasets that were used in the analysis are included in the Supplementary Data. Given that some of these datasets are not publicly available due to required preregistrations or confidentiality agreements (see Supplementary Table 1), the data used for the estimation module are only available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. The simulated datasets generated during the current study are also available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. Estimation and simulation results presented in the study are included in the Supplementary Data.

Code availability

The codes used during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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All authors received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 821124 (NAVIGATE).

Author information




M.P.-C. and S.P. conceived the initial framework. M.P.-C., S.P. and B.v.R. designed the research. M.P.-C., A.M. and E.B. prepared the data. M.P.-C. performed the modelling, wrote the codes and carried out the analysis. M.P.-C. and S.P. led the writing of the paper with all other authors contributing.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Miguel Poblete-Cazenave.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Energy thanks Alexandros Nikas, Jon Sampedro and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–7 and Tables 1 and 2.

Supplementary Data

Supplementary data including scenario drivers, estimation results and data behind the figures.

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Poblete-Cazenave, M., Pachauri, S., Byers, E. et al. Global scenarios of household access to modern energy services under climate mitigation policy. Nat Energy 6, 824–833 (2021).

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