Renewable Energy Can Reduce Poverty

Last week we had a piece on poverty and street people. Now the Netherlands Ministry of Spatial Planning, Housing and the Environment have released their latest online newsletter, Shared Spaces, addressing the links between energy availability and poverty. Jamal Saghir, Director of Energy and Water at the World Bank, writing in just one of many excellent articles, notes that "Access to electricity is synonymous with a better standard of living. Cost-effective and reliable energy helps alleviate poverty and enables economic development. No country in modern times has substantially reduced poverty without an increase in its use of energy." Developed countries have an energy consumption ten times that of developing countries and the world's richest billion people (simply meaning people who earn >$20,000USD p.a. -- so that probably includes most of us reading this!) use 25 times as much as the billion poorest. Renewable energy is one way to turn around this inequity ... ... and according to Mr Saghir even help improve a country's balance of payments. He points out the obvious but often forgotten: "Electric lighting in schools and homes enables teaching, reading and socialising after dark. In hospitals and clinics it means service continues through the night. Modern energy services for cooking and lighting spare women and children the chore of collecting wood and fuel for fires. Children can use the time to attend school and women have more time for moneymaking or other family activities." And aside from better living standards he also indicates that such energy services also improve "environmental health, particularly for the 2.4 billion people in developing countries who rely on traditional biomass (wood, dung etc.) for cooking and heating." For many other stories on this topic skip over to ::Shared Spaces [by WM]

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