Around the world, one out of every five people has no electricity in their home. Almost two out of every five rely on wood or other biomass for cooking or heating. Lack of access to energy in households and communities threatens the achievement of pretty much every one of the Millennium Development Goals that the international community has set to fight poverty, hunger, and disease.
International institutions are in a position to support energy access for the poor, however, development banks such as the World Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank continue to fund large-scale fossil fuel projects that do not support energy access.
Achieving universal energy access is an ambitious goal, but it’s not out of reach. Small scale, renewable energy is one of the best ways to help achieve energy access. Solar panels, wind turbines, and mini-hydropower all work well in rural areas where there’s no electricity grid – where many people who lack electricity access live.
- The power and entrenchment of the fossil fuel industry poses a great challenge to clean energy access. International financing often goes to the fossil fuel industry because oil, gas and coal are long-established energy sources produced by large, established corporations. This financing overlooks the serious drawbacks of fossil fuel energy – local pollution, climate change, and the increasing cost of conventional energy.
- The lack of familiarity with and understanding of renewable energy on the part of international institutions and governments means that fossil fuels continue to receive funding. Conventional energy sources and grid expansion from large fossil fuel energy sources often become default energy provision. However, an examination of the economics of energy sources reveals that, in rural areas off the electricity grid, small-scale renewable energy projects are often the cheapest and easiest ways to provide electricity.
Oil Change is working with partners globally to pressure development institutions to fund more clean energy and energy access projects.
- We are exposing the truth about development bank energy financing through our online database, www.ShifttheSubsidies.org.
- We are working with partners in developing countries to produce research and analysis that demonstrates how increased energy access is achievable with distributed renewable technologies.
- We are pressuring the World Bank Group – an international institution that receives taxpayer money – to direct energy funding towards clean energy investments that increase energy access. As an influential development bank, if the World Bank takes steps towards increasing clean energy access, other financiers are more likely to follow suit.
To find out more about clean energy access issues, check out our resources:
- Report: Energy Access for the Poor: The Clean Energy Option. Oil Change International, ActionAid International, and Vasudha Foundation (India), June, 2011. This report finds that only 9 percent of World Bank Group energy sector lending in 2009 and 2010 actually went to support basic energy needs in communities that lacked access to energy. The report also demonstrates that, in India, decentralized renewable energy systems are less expensive than extending the grid from a coal fired power plant for the rural poor. The report further cites examples of how decentralized renewable energy can provide power more reliably than through grid extension.
- Report: World Bank Group Energy Financing: Energy for the Poor?, Oil Change International, October, 2010. This study finds that none of the World Bank Group’s fossil fuel finance directly targets the poor or ensures that energy benefits are reaching the poor.
- www.ShiftTheSubsidies.org: See how much money international development banks are sending to the fossil fuel industry in developing countries through the Shift the Subsidies database.