Power to the People

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change is calling for the international community to commit to universal access to modern energy services by 2030. The financial implications of meeting this goal are large, but not overwhelming when weighed against the enormous benefits.

MEXICO CITY – If you are reading this article, you most likely have electricity and heat at home and never think of that fact as at all remarkable. But over 2 billion people – one in three people on our planet – have no access to modern energy to light and heat the dwellings in which they live.

The obstacles to energy access are not technical. We know how to build power systems, design modern cooking stoves, and meet energy demand efficiently. What is missing is a global commitment to move energy access up the political and development agendas.

Half of the world’s population uses solid fuel, such as wood, charcoal, or dung, for cooking. According to the World Health Organization, 1.6 million women and children die each year as a result of indoor smoke inhalation, more than from malaria. Add the pollutant emissions from such stoves, together with the deforestation that results from using firewood, and you have several pressing global challenges that can be tackled at once by closing the energy gap.

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