Tuesday, August 6, 2013

You can make a difference!

With a problem as big as energy poverty, you may be wondering can I really make a difference to help solve this global problem. The reality is yes. Energy poverty is a large problem, but by creating awareness followed by taking action, we can make a huge difference.

Before I tell you how exactly you can make a difference, it is important to understand just where and how energy poverty exists and the strides we have taken toward the problem. At the rate we are going, the world bank and international energy agency estimates that we would have to triple our spending to about $400 billion a year. This increase would bring clean water and modern electricity to the entire population by 2030. Needless to say, this is a huge increase in spending, but also needless to say, energy poverty is a huge problem. An estimated 1.2 billion people still do not have electricity. This is almost the entire population of India! Another 2.8 billion people still have to use wood to cook and heat their homes. To top it off, another 3.2 million women and children die each year from respiratory illness directly related to wood and biomass fumes. The numbers don’t lie, energy poverty is a gigantic problem.

So you may be thinking, haven’t we come a long way in solving this energy poverty crisis. The answer is a very complex one. For example, between 1990 and 2010 shows that 1.7 billion people gained access to electricity. However, during this same period of time the population grew by 1.6 billion people. So indeed it does look like progress has been made, but the reality is there is nearly the same amount of people without electricity. So what needs to happen? We need to double our spending to meet the 2030 goal. You might be wondering what this would mean for the carbon dioxide levels. To put it in perspective, bringing electricity to 1.2 million people using conventional energy sources would only increase global carbon dioxide emissions by less than one percent.

So what can you do personally? Increasing spending by $400 billion a year seems like a helpless and unachievable number. But the public can help! By supporting non-profit organizations and engaging with our politicians to making energy poverty a top priority, we can increase the likelihood of solving this issue by leaps and bounds. No we cannot do it all, but we can certainly help! Government actions also need to be taken to meet these goals such as phasing out fossil fuels subsidies and establishing a carbon floor price. Also, a substantial investment from a private sector would greatly help. But where does all of this start? From creating awareness, something that everyone can do!  By demanding that energy poverty be at the top of the agenda, the problem can be solved!

So now you might be thinking, why does this matter. Providing clean energy and electricity globally will create developments in health. It will also provide a better way for education. And finally it will create better business on a global scale. Let’s open the door to leave poverty behind. You can make a difference!


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