Energy poverty: Living without modern energy

Worldwide, it’s estimated that 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity and 2.6 billion people don’t have clean or efficient cooking fuels. Instead, they burn materials like wood or animal dung to stay warm and cook with.1

A lack of modern energy services is known as ‘energy poverty’ and it severely affects human wellbeing, as well as a country’s economic development.

Access to these energy services is essential for so many things that we take for granted here in Australia; the provision of clean water, sanitation and healthcare, as well as lighting, heating, transport and communications.

The developing world is the worst affected; according to the International Energy Agency, more than 95 percent of people who experience energy poverty come from sub-Saharan Africa or developing Asia and, of these, 84 percent live in rural areas.2

Just one example of how poor access to energy affects people’s lives is the World Health Organisation’s estimate that 4.3 million people died prematurely in 2012 (of which nearly 600,000 were in Africa) from adverse effects of indoor air pollution caused by burning fuels such as wood and charcoal.3


“Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive.” – Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.4


Discover what it means to live without access to modern energy in this quick video:

Power the World: The Story of Imani

Solving energy poverty needs global investment and action

The United Nations (UN) is driving an initiative known as ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ which is working towards 2030 as a target date for achieving equitable access to sustainable energy worldwide.

Some of the projects underway to realise this goal, include funding, technology and education support for small scale solar operations, micro and mini grids and clean cooking solutions.


“Achieving sustainable energy for all is an ambitious but achievable goal” – Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.5


The International Energy Agency reports that an annual investment of $48 billion a year is needed if the 2030 target is to be reached,6 and the UN is calling on international governments and private sector investment to help drive this.

References

  1. International Energy Agency (IEA) 2013, Energy poverty, IEA.
  2. International Energy Agency (IEA) 2013, Energy poverty, IEA.
  3. World Health Organisation (WHO), WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Household Fuel Combustion 2014, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.
  4. United Nations 2011, OurVision, Sustainable Energy for All, Vienna International Centre.
  5. United Nations 2011, A Vision Statement by Ban Ki-moon Secretary-General of the United Nations, Sustainable Energy for All, Vienna International Centre.
  6. United Nations 2011, A Vision Statement by Ban Ki-moon Secretary-General of the United Nations, Sustainable Energy for All, Vienna International Centre.

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