The energy poverty challenge

Prof Chris Greig: "One of the things that really troubles me is that most of the community and most of the commentary doesn’t deal with the issue of energy poverty.  So this is this issue of those 800 million or 1.3 billion it actually is, people in the world who don't have access to any electricity and even more startling is there is about 2.6 billion who don't have clean cooking fuel, so these are people who rely on a mixture of biomass, so sticks and twigs and grass and dung, that they collect daily to provide the primary source of heating and cooking in the homes.  So the implications of this are quite dramatic.  These people remain impoverished so they have women and children collecting this biomass whilst the husband tries to seek out a living.  So it’s enormous social impact.  It also has environmental impacts because it leads to the deforestation and impacts on ground water systems.  But then there’s also the health issues, that people estimate that there’s about two million people a year who die from smoking inhalation in their homes.  So this is quite a dramatic issue.  Now these people are not thinking about long term climate change, these people are thinking about survival here and now.  You then have the climate implications of that fuel that they’re burning, so apparently it’s a billion tonnes a year that’s emitted of CO2, from these indoor fires.  So on the one hand we’re talking about what the developed world has to do about sustainable energy, but we can’t talk about that in isolation of how do we bring two and a half billion people around the world out of energy impoverishment.  These two challenges have to be dealt with together.  And then we’ve got to take into account that over the next 30 years we should see another two billion people on the planet and a lot of those people are going to be in those regions which are currently energy impoverished.  So this challenge is enormous and it’s not being looked at by most commentators."

Categories: Energy Choices, Global Poverty
Author: Prof. Chris Greig
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