Over a billion people worldwide don’t have access to a single light bulb. Energy poverty remains rampant in the developing world, with two-thirds of Africans lacking access to electricity. Modern energy services would dramatically improve health, increase financial opportunities and diminish the massive gap between the rich and the poor. We do not have to choose between ending energy poverty for millions and stopping catastrophic climate change: renewable energy offers a cost-effective solution for both — and we call on world’s governments and financial institutions to unite in funding our renewable energy future.
The World Bank (WB), the International Energy Agency and the United Nations (UN) are amongst a broad consensus that understands the pressing need for clean energy technologies for health and development. We join them in advocating for the world’s poor to access technology for reliable energy that also curtails air pollution, saving millions of lives and billions in healthcare costs.
It’s time for governments and financial institutions to deploy renewable, nimble, participatory and clean energy solutions to developing nations, rather than tethering them to polluting and antiquated fossil fuel projects. Climate change has hit the people of the Global South the hardest, and they know that survival demands participation in the renewable energy revolution. The world needs to double or triple its current spending—about $400 billion a year—to meet the UN goal of bringing clean and modern electricity to all people by 2030, according to a WB report. Government and financial institutions can play a crucial role in finding targeted solutions to renewable energy financing hurdles and facilitating broad and rapid clean energy penetration.
While large-scale fossil fuel infrastructure is commonly touted as an answer to development, most of those unable to access energy live in rural areas where power stations are not typically built. Coal power stations feeding a national grid have only a maximum 40% efficiency rate and a long build time, extending the gap before connection. Energy poverty demands swift solutions, and these must be grounded in the pragmatic use of clean and renewable energy sources to meet immediate and long-term demand locally — such as local micro-grids that minimise pollution and can be customized for local needs and conditions. They also employ more people locally and often yield immediate results for local economic growth, education results, safety and security.
Dirty energy interests and their financial institution backers have relentlessly pressured governments to diminish civil society’s voice in development and environmental decisions. They tend to exert direct or indirect pressure that reduces governments’ willingness to enforce environmental protections, crack down on corruption, or prevent land grabs and forced displacement. They can contribute to human rights violations, from the repression of free speech and assembly to the denial of fair trials and even complicity in torture, disappearance and extrajudicial execution.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the WB and all public and private financial institutions must fully separate themselves from these rights violations. We call on the WB and the IMF to fund only projects that create a world free of energy poverty relying exclusively on renewable, clean sources of sustainable energy that favor local and durable economic development.
The Asia-Pacific region comprises of 60 percent of the global population, generates 32 percent of global GDP, consumes more than half of the global energy supply, while generating 55 percent of global emissions from fuel consumption. While in Bali the WB and IMF must commit to measures that ensure its host region gets the clean air, safe cooking fuel and climate relief they vitally need and deserve.
Join the world’s poor and developing nations by pledging to stop funding climate destruction and human rights abuse, and commit instead to fund our future.
Sign the petition