Out of the Dark: The Climate Implications of Global Electrification

Michael Delgado, Shashank Mohan and Trevor Houser | December 1, 2015

On September 25, 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution outlining a “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. This included 17 goals, one of which is to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. Providing electricity access to the more than 1.2 billion people that currently lack it will be central to this challenge. Given the fact that power generation is responsible for 32% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, expanding electricity access could have a material impact on another of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals—to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”.  This report assesses the potential climate implications of successfully closing the electrification gap.