With COP16 kicking off in Cancún, Mexico at the end of the month, UNEP is hoping to get people jazzed up about all the different ways of combatting climate change--considering, that all signs point to little progress on the political front this year, taking meaningful individual action comes back to the forefront. Starting their '30 ways in 30 days' program, UNEP is highlighting a really pretty cool way to help get Indian villages electricity, though solar power and solar-specific loans. Here are the details:The problem is that over 60% of Indian households don't have reliably access to electricity and use kerosene of biomass for heating, lighting, and cooking--the former is a fossil fuel with all the resulting climate change problems and both can have serious associated health problems when burned indoors and you're constantly exposed to it. Solar power is an obvious solution, but is far out of reach financially for many people.
The UNEP solution (which may seem familiar as ">TreeHugger has written about both this program and similar ones elsewhere in the past) is to hook up with banks to arrange loans for solar power systems and solar-powered lights. In the first four years of the program nearly 20,000 homes got solar panels, and initial subsidies provided for the program were phased out. The whole program won the Energy Globe Award in 2008.
Financing Often Biggest Barrier to Clean Power in Poorer Nations
Why write about the program again you may ask? Because the program offers a great example of how technological leapfrogging can be helped along--areas that had only very limited access to electricity before, and power generated by polluting fossil fuels, don't necessarily have the same sort of barriers to clean power in terms of established infrastructure and sunken costs in old technology that more developed ones do. By developing innovative ways to allow people to purchase solar power systems or solar-powered products, they can reap the genuine socio-economic benefits of having reliable electricity, while also reaping the ecological benefits of not polluting the environment.
Time to Scale Up This Sort of Work
Since this is the first UNEP highlighted way, here's the obligatory background info:
UNEP's aim is to show that across the world, in myriad ways, from community-based programmes to entrepreneurial endeavors, solutions are available to help confront the challenges of climate change and to help countries, communities and businesses move towards low-emission climate-resilient growth.
More could be done if governments, corporations and communities scaled up this work. Every country and many institutions have their own 30 success stories to demonstrate that action is being taken across the globe, initiatives that with funding and technology support can be scaled up dramatically.
More info: UNEP
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More on Solar Power:
UNEP Bringing Solar Power Into India's Mainstream
Solar Bonus Scheme Allows Householders to Farm Energy
MicroEnergy Credits Help Speed Adoption of Clean Tech Worldwide