Monday, September 16, 2013
Sustainable energy for all
Sarah Wykes and Ben Garside There is a consensus that modern, safe, secure and affordable energy services are vital to helping people out of poverty. At least 1.3 billion people still have no electricity, while 2.7 billion cook over open fires; 95% of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The UN's Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative highlights its commitment to the goal of universal access to modern energy by 2030. SE4All recognises the challenge of powering the world while preventing dangerous climate change; its goals include doubling energy efficiency and renewable energy globally by 2030. More than 70 countries are now signed up. Some have argued that, if we are to limit global warming to below two degrees, a shift to cleaner and more efficient energy cannot wait until 2030. Two decades is also a long time to wait for poor people who need to heat and light their homes, schools and clinics, and power farms and businesses. Are new approaches needed to tackle energy poverty? And if so, will donors such as the UK put up funds to back them?