Energy Poverty and Climate Change

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 Global Tracking Framework says the world must do more if it is to ensure that all can benefit from modern, clean energy by 2030. 

GLOBE-Net, June 3, 2013 – A new report published as part of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Initiative says that a population four times the size of the United States still lives without access to electricity, which is a major impediment to global economic development.

In addition, fossil fuels still account for more than 80% of the world’s energy mix, despite efforts to limit climate change. 

The Global Tracking Framework, a multi-agency effort led by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Bank, calculates the starting point against which the SE4ALL initiative can benchmark progress towards its three objectives for 2030:

  1. Achieving universal access to modern energy services
  2. Doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
  3. Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

“The Sustainable Energy for All initiative is a rallying cry to tackle the twin crises of energy poverty and climate change, and this Global Tracking Framework is an important first response,” said Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the IEA and member of the Advisory Board of the SE4All initiative. 

“By measuring the scale of the challenge, it provides a crucial reference against which the partners of the SE4ALL initiative, and all of us, can track progress towards building a cleaner energy system for all,” she noted.

“The IEA has advocated stronger action to tackle energy poverty for more than a decade as part of itsWorld Energy Outlook, but more needs to be done to tackle the problem. It is a moral imperative and we cannot afford to ignore it,” she added. 

The Global Tracking Framework estimates that, as of 2010, 17% (1.2 billion) of the global population did not have access to electricity while 41% (2.8 billion) still relied on wood or other biomass to cook and heat their homes. 

Renewable energy accounted for 18% of the global energy mix in 2010, while global energy efficiency had improved by 1.3% per year on average since 1990. 

[stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” width=”200″ bcolor=”add3d5″ bgcolor=”add3d5″ image=”null”]”The global energy system is undergoing arguably the biggest transformation in modern history and bold policy measures will be required to enable the energy sector to deliver on this challenge.” Dr. Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council. [/stextbox]

Global action is required, but the nature of the challenge differs across countries. The report identifies 20 high-impact countries in Asia and Africa that account for about two-thirds of those without access to electricity, and three-quarters of those who use solid fuels to cook or heat their homes. 

This leads to indoor air pollution being the cause for about four million premature deaths a year, most of them women and children. These high-impact countries offer the most potential to make rapid progress towards the goals. 

About 80% of those without access to modern energy live in rural areas. Although 1.7 billion people gained access to electricity between 1990 and 2010, this is only slightly ahead of population growth of 1.6 billion over the same period. 


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The pace of expansion will have to double to meet the 100% access target by 2030. To bring electricity to this one billion and to others using conventional energy sources would increase global carbon dioxide emissions by less than one percent. 

The report also offers lessons from the experience of two fast-moving countries for the high-impact countries in tackling the goals: China recorded the largest energy savings and greatest expansion in renewable energy globally; India has electrified an annual average of 24 million people and provided 20 million a year with access to modern cooking and heating fuels since 1990. 

“The report shows that there has been progress but it is also clear that much more will need to be done if we are to meet the UN Secretary General’s ambitious goals”, said Dr. Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council. 

Additionally, the report finds that achievement of the SE4ALL goals requires energy investments by countries, international organizations, the private sector and the civil society to increase by at least $600 billion every year until 2030. 

But the costs are not spread evenly as the $600 billion would include $45 billion for electricity expansion, $4.4 billion on modern cooking, $394 billion in energy efficiency, and $174 billion on renewable energy. 

This investment must be accompanied by a comprehensive package of policy measures, including fiscal, financial and economic incentives, phasing out fossil-fuel subsidies and pricing of carbon. 

The executive summary of the Global Tracking Framework is available here:


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