The good news: By 2030, it’s possible to bring energy to the 1.3 billion people who don’t have electricity, and the 2.7 billion who don’t have clean cooking facilities … most of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa or developing regions of Asia.
The bad news: Doing so, according to IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven is “just a question of mustering the political will.”
In today’s political environment? Good luck with that.
Still, the report is optimistic and offers a roadmap for getting from here to there.
Step one: Simply acknowledge that “energy for all” — the report’s title — is a political priority.
Step two: Ramp up funding to pay for energy improvements. The IEA estimates it’ll be necessary to spend $48 billion a year to make universal energy access happen, a sum it acknowledges is “large,” although just 3 percent of what’s expected to be spent on energy infrastructure around the world between now and 2030.
Step three: Governments need to get the ball rolling, but it’s the private sector that will have to up its contributions the most.
Step four: Get creative with financing options, including the use of local banks and microfinance.
Step five: Gather “robust, regular and comprehensive data” to fully understand the scope of the challenge and keep track of progress.
“In too many countries today, children cannot do their homework because they have no light,” said van der Hoeven. “Food cannot be kept because there is no electricity. In short, modern society cannot function. The United Nations has declared 2012 the ‘International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’ and this is an excellent opportunity for us to agree on rapid collective action to address this unacceptable problem.”