GCN patrons call for global drive to alleviate energy poverty

Published Tue 20 Jul 2010
Global Climate Network patrons John D. Podesta and Rajendra K. Pachauri today called on world leaders to do more to deploy low-carbon energy sources in a bid to increase energy access for the world's poor.

Global Climate Network patrons John D. Podesta and Rajendra K. Pachauri today called on world leaders to do more to deploy low-carbon energy sources in a bid to increase energy access for the world's poor.

Speaking on a panel during the public forum of the Clean Energy Ministerial in Washington DC, the two suggested that with the costs of conventional energy projected to rise in future years, investment in clean technology alternatives is critical not only in reducing harmful carbon emissions but also in bringing much needed energy supply to poor communities in the developing world.

Pachauri, who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and runs the Energy and Resources Institute, the GCN's Indian partner, drew attention to the 1.6 billion people worldwide who are currently without energy access. He said that there was an urgent need to accelerate access to sustainable energy sources by building on and scaling up existing initiatives, such as the 'Lighting a billion lives' programme in India, as well as finding new off-grid energy solutions.

He also stressed that the right conditions for innovation must be met to prevent business-as-usual in fossil energy consumption occurring in the developing world. This included the use of advanced market commitments, clean energy funds and enabling bottom-up innovation to foster wide-scale moves towards decentralised low-carbon energy.

Podesta, CEO of Center for American Progress, the GCN's US member, echoed these comments and argued that innovation in technology, finance flows and governance processes are required at the national and international levels if we are to spell an end to energy poverty.

He acknowledged that the US has a key role to play in delivering on the $30 billion fast-start financing agreed at Copenhagen. Yet, he cautioned that given the US' budget deficit and the current lack of appropriate mechanisms for tapping into private sector funds, it is difficult to envisage more ambitious near-term finance flows. In spite of the discouraging lack of political will in the US, 'we shouldn't let the US president off the hook to push this process forward', said Podesta.

The Clean Energy Ministerial announced several initiatives to reduce energy poverty, including a Solar and LED Energy Access Program (SLED) to transform the global market for modern, affordable and clean off-grid appliances, such as solar LED lanterns. The programme, which was announced by US Energy Secretary Steven Chu at the Clean Energy Ministerial on Tuesday, will be led by the US and Italy and managed by the International Finance Corporation.

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