Today, Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) Senior Fellow Dan Kammen had the honor of delivering the plenary talk for a panel, “Off-Grid Electrification: Evidence of Impact,” at the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All conference in New York.
Dr. Kammen's doctoral student Peter Alstone, spoke in a parallel session on off-grid energy for productive uses. Both talks drew on a major new summary of the field they published in Nature Climate Change titled "Decentralized energy systems for clean electricity access". The conference is part of an initiative of the same name, launched in 2011 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, which aims to mobilize cross-sectoral action on sustainable energy.
As put by the Secretary-General, "Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equality, and an environment that allows the world to thrive."
Unfortunately, lack of access to sustainable, clean energy sources holds us all back. Nearly 20 percent of the world’s population still lacks access to electricity, and more than 1 in 3 relies on domestic energy sources which are a health risk, such as wood. Lack of electricity inhibits children’s educational prospects, women’s empowerment, and economic development.As put by the Secretary-General, “Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive.”
Where electricity is plentiful, we face the effects of waste and pollution from expensive or inaccessible nonrenewable sources, which impact ecosystems and worsen climate change. Currently, renewable energy constitutes only 15% of the global energy matrix, but this is growing, and costs are falling toward competitiveness with fossil fuels.
In 2011, investment in clean energy created 2.3 million jobs! However, global energy demand, along with energy-related emissions, are rising rapidly, and to address both the human and environmental challenges of the looming energy deficit and the tendency to use fossil fuels to fill it, a massive undertaking is needed.
In response to these challenges, Sustainable Energy for All has three interlinked objectives: to provide universal access to modern energy services; to double the rate of global energy efficiency improvement; and to double the share of renewables in the energy matrix. The Initiative aims to leverage global stakeholder institutions and cross-sectoral expertise to support action across all three pillars, and ultimately to enact a massive scale-up of sustainable, efficient energy access.