Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Perhaps energy access should have been a MDG

Ahead of the climate change conference next week in Copenhagen, the United Nations Development Programme put together a study that shows access to electricity around the globe.

For most of the world, people are lucky to have access to power for just a couple of hours a day, if at all. But improved access to power in the under-developed world could improve the health, income and the environment around those in poverty.

From the IPS, writer Rajiv Fernando examines the report from the UNDP.

The report finds that the disparity is particularly pronounced in developing and least developed countries such as Burundi, Liberia and Chad, where 97 percent of people don't have access to electricity.

Normally, this kind of data would not have been made widely available, especially since the anti-poverty U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) do not specifically highlight a need for energy access.

The primary motivation behind the study was to create a 'catch-all' document for the array of energy access data available from developing countries, which has yet to be made accessible in a single publication.

There were many contributors to the report, including Minoru Takada, head of the Sustainable Energy Programme, Environment and Energy Group for UNDP. He is the originator of the concept of the publication and directed its development over a period of two years.

For energy access to be expanded in poor countries, there also has to be a political will by developed nations to help spread the technology for energy sustainability, the authors say.

"First, both at the national and global levels, there's a lack of real political commitment," Takada told IPS. "We really need political commitments at the national and global levels to tackle the energy poverty challenge within a specific timeframe. To help on making political commitment, which is my second point, we need to rectify a wrong perception that universal access to modern energy at the household level can explode greenhouse gas emissions."

According to Takada, not only is the contribution of universal access to modern energy at the household level – both electricity and modern cooking fuels – to global CO2 emissions negligible but also, will, most likely, end up promoting low carbon pathways.

1 comment:

Sanjeev said...


Jus wanted you to be aware of the following series of dialogues that may be of interest to you. The event of world hunger was held earlier this week in Washington, D.C. with many more to come. Event video can be seen at:

The events are organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Knight Center for International Media.