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World Doesn’t Need More Energy to End Poverty, Study Says

Healthy life needs less energy than once thought, researchers say.

Power lines cut across Alexandra township, Johannesburg. A Stanford study suggests the world has enough energy to allow everyone a healthy life — if redistributed equitably.

Power lines cut across Alexandra township, Johannesburg. A Stanford study suggests the world has enough energy to allow everyone a healthy life — if redistributed equitably.

Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Billions of people could be lifted out of poverty without boosting global energy consumption, according to a new Stanford University study that has deep implications for climate change.

Researchers studied how health and well-being improved in about 140 countries as per-capita energy use increased. The study, published in the Ecological Society of America journal Ecosphere, found that in most key measures, including life expectancy, food supply, infant mortality and access to sanitation, people’s lives got substantially better when they used more energy—but only to a point.