ONE is inviting friends and supporters to give their perspective on the Energy Poverty Challenge and what is needed to solve it. In this piece, Reid Detchon, vice president for Energy and Climate at the United Nations Foundation and executive director of the Energy Future Coalition, discusses the link between sustainable development and clean energy and the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.
One of the greatest barriers to success in tackling many longstanding global challenges is energy poverty.
Access to affordable, reliable energy advances education, empowers women, and creates economic opportunity. Lighting alone can save the life of a woman in labor, make streets safer at night, and allow a child to study after dark. In short, development is not possible without energy, and sustainable energy is essential for sustainable development.
But today, one in five people around the world lack access to electricity, and nearly 3 billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating –- a major health threat that kills nearly 2 million people a year. In developed nations, which enjoy readily available energy resources, reliance on fossil fuels is putting billions of tons of carbon dioxide and pollution into the atmosphere each year.
The way we think about and use energy must change. That’s why UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is leading a global initiative, Sustainable Energy for All, to spur governments, businesses, and nonprofit groups to work toward three objectives for 2030:
- Provide universal access to modern energy;
- Double the global rate of improvement of energy efficiency; and
- Double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
In June the international community will come together for the Rio+20 conference, marking the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit in 1992. This will be a pivotal moment to assess the how far the world has come and how far it needs to go to achieve sustainable development –- development that meets today’s needs without compromising the future for generations yet to come.
New public-private partnerships are needed -– to invest in energy-efficient infrastructure that creates jobs, fosters economic growth, and improves energy security. They are needed to harness energy from renewable resources like wind, water, solar and biomass and reduce the risk of climate change. They are needed to create new business models that will make sustainable energy available to all.
The old days of dirty energy must soon be over. Will you join us in hurrying the clean energy future?
Do you have an opinion on how to solve the energy poverty challenge? If so, ONE wants to hear from you -– check out our Energy Poverty Challenge blog post to contribute to the discussion and find out more. Or, tweet your ideas to us using the hashtag #energy4all and #myenergyidea.