Friday, August 16, 2013

How Should We Measure Energy Poverty?

Rural Bangladesh End Use HH Energy Per Capita Per Month
by Income Decile.  Source:  Rural Energy Survey 2005

Energy poverty can be a hard thing to define. Is it the same as income poverty? Or is it based on access to energy, not the actual amount of energy used? Energy for Development states four different was of defining energy poverty: 

-          “Minimum amount of physical energy necessary for basic needs such as cooking and lighting
-          “Type and amount of energy that is used for those at the poverty line”
-          “Households that spend more than  a certain percent of their expenditure on energy”
-          “The income point below which energy use and or expenditures remains the same, implying this is the bare minimum energy needs” 

All of these explanations seem to be somewhat viable with visible pros and cons. However, who’s to say which is right and which is wrong? Most of the time energy poverty is explained as little or no access to energy for means of cooking, lighting, and heating. This is an adequate explanation but also leaves a lot to be interpreted. That is where these explanations come in. Energy poverty is more than not having access; it is not having adequate amounts. With this explanation, poor families in the United States could be considered to be experiencing energy poverty. Without the means to heat or light a house, one could be considered energy poor. The world runs on money, but shouldn’t everyone be entitled to basic needs? The following video shows the effects a cold home on children due to insufficient fuel.

The main focus of energy poverty are developing countries but people need to realize there are others, closer to home that are afflicted with the same problem. 

Read more about Energy for Development here

And visit National Energy Action to learn more.

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