Global Energy Poverty Highlighted by World Bank-Led Report
A business-as-usual approach will not end global energy poverty on its own, says a newly released report on energy led by the World Bank.
At present, an estimated 1.2 billion people survive without access to modern electricity. 2.8 billion people depend primarily on wood, dung, and biomass to cook meals and heat their homes every day. In order to bring clean and modern electricity to everyone by 2030, the world needs to double or even triple its current budget – about $400 billion a year.
The report “Global Tracking Framework” was the result of a World Bank-led collaboration among international agencies on energy around the globe, National Geographic reports. The framework was made to sustain momentum for the achievement of the UN’s initiative “Sustainable Energy for All” (SE4ALL). The SE4ALL initiative is comprised of three clean energy goals to be accomplished by 2030. These are: (1) ensure universal access to modern energy services, (2) double the percentage of renewable energy in the global energy mix, and (3) double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency worldwide.
Executive Director of the nonprofit UN Foundation Energy Access Iniatitive Richenda van Leeuwan said,
“Having credible data is key to being able to determine and report back on where we are—as a world—in achieving these common goals, and where efforts need to be redoubled.”
15 partner agencies including the International Energy Agency (IEA) among others built consensus to produce the Global Tracking Framework. The consensus took two rounds of public consultation with over a hundred stakeholders. The data platform of the GTF covers 180+ countries covering 98% of the global population and spanning a 20 year timeline from 1990 to 2010. The central indicators of the GTF include measuring percentages of population with electricity connection, those who use non-solid fuels, and those who rely on renewable sources.
The report details in hard numbers the extent of the challenge the UN will face in accomplishing the SE4ALL initiative. One of the report’s most significant findings reveal that substantial progress continues to be undercut by explosive population growth. The number of people without access to electricity seems to not have changed by much over the years, but in fact 1.7 billion more people gained access to electricity between 1990 and 2010. Yet at the same time, world population grew 1.6 billion over the same 20-year period, mostly in the regions with poor energy access. The report stated that the pace of expansion needs to be redoubled in order to achieve 100% energy access by 2030.
Increasing energy output may also be not enough. India increased the reach of its grid to an average of 24 million more people every year since 1990, yet still has a staggering 306.2 million people without electricity. China has twice that number of people without clean fuel for cooking and heating, even though it has achieved the highest energy efficiency among nations. Also, many of the energy-producing countries like Nigeria, the largest oil producer in Africa, fail to bring fuel to their own populations.
These are only a few of the challenges outlined in the Global Tracking Framework. The report also recommends bold policy steps and promotion of good investment for clean energy to achieve the SE4ALL initiative. World Bank Vice President Rachel Kyte said,
“Access to energy is absolutely fundamental in the struggle against poverty. It is energy that lights the lamp that lets you do your homework, that keeps the heat on in a hospital, that lights the small businesses where most people work. Without energy, there is no economic growth, there is no dynamism, and there is no opportunity.”
This information coupled with a 2007 report called “The Cost of Pollution in China” conducted by the World Bank that says as many as 470,000 people in China die from breathing polluted air and drinking polluted water each year – tells us we have a long way to go in terms of global equity and standards of living.
“The World Bank is also concerned by indoor air pollution, principally breathing in fumes from coal-burning stoves and cooking oil. Its experts estimate that as many as 300,000 Chinese a year die prematurely in this way.”
To make matters sound worse, a new study published in 2013 by a British Medical Journal, The Lancet, cites that up to 1.2 million Chinese die each year prematurely according to a report in the New York Times.
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