The world needs to move quickly to address energy poverty in developing countries, and renewable energies should play a key role in that solution, according to officials attending this week’s Global Renewable Energy Forum in Mexico.
The three-day forum, organised by the Mexican Ministry of Energy and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), has drawn more than 1,000 participants from different parts of the world, including representatives of governments, international organizations, academia, civil society and the private sector.
“The level of energy poverty in the developing world is unacceptable and requires focused global action,” said Kandeh K. Yumkella, UNIDO’s Director-General. “Renewable energies are an inescapable part of our planet’s sustainable future and sustainable industrial development.”
Yumkella added, “The technology to change the situation exists, the money exists, the needs of the people are clear. Attacking this issue needs a focused approach with myriad benefits to development, equity, peace and security. Renewable energy should be the foundation and driving force of these efforts.”
Currenly, 75 per cent of the planet’s energy is consumed by the world’s 20 largest cities, each with a population of over 10 million people. By 2030, worldwide energy consumption is projected to grow 44 per cent. Yet some 1.6 billion people in the developing world still have no access to electricity, and one-fifth of the world’s population lacks access to electricity, thermal energy for heat and cooking, and mechanical power for productive uses.
Yumkella said environmental initiatives such as those under way in the Latin American and Caribbean region will help “seal the deal” at the Copenhagen Summit on climate change this December.
“A deal in Copenhagen would provide a framework for refining and redirecting energy markets towards low-carbon solutions,” he said. “The world is moving to an energy-efficient and low-carbon growth path. This is a fact.”
Participants at the forum have called for coordinated action on energy and related issues like climate change and poverty. They also pointed to the need to scale up successful, small-size renewable energy projects and programmes.
“It is possible to have sustainable development without slowing down economic growth or reducing the quality of life,” Yumkella said. “This would need to be underpinned by smart energy policies and practices and substantively changed production and consumption patterns. We must produce more with less material and energy intensities and consume less of our non-renewable resources.”