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25 June 2008 - News Article

Energy for the Poor

Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman, IPCC
(GHF. Photo: Daniel Rihs)
GENEVA, 25 June – At least 1.6 billion people in the world have no access to electricity. What can be done to make clean, efficient energy available to them? Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says one of the keys is research and development into new technologies.

At a roundtable discussion about energy for the poor, the panellists concluded that a detailed assessment of world energy needs was needed in order to come up with focused solutions. It was vital that development organisations and businesses worked together. They recommended that a body of entrepreneurs be set up as a focus for the campaign to develop clean energy technologies.

Solar lamps

Dr Pachauri stressed that making energy available to the poor would also create development opportunities, which could generate income. He illustrated this by showing a film about the solar lamps developed by Tata Energy Resources Institute. The movie, shot in Rajasthan, India, shows how access to light has enabled villagers to develop new careers in teaching and furniture making.

Dr Pachauri said providing lamps for one billion people would cost US$20 billion, only US$5 billion more than the United States spends on its Iraq campaign every month. He mentioned that there had been a clear lack of investment in photovoltaic (solar) technology, evidenced by sustained high prices.

The group warned against consigning the developing world to sun and dung, while the developed world continues to get rich on the back of fossil fuels. Dr Pachauri said people in industrialised countries had to cut fossil fuel consumption, while allowing poorer countries to use more.

By Julie Hunt

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