Sometime this week, the 7 billionth child will be born. And there’s a good chance that child will be living in energy poverty.
Even today, there are roughly 1.5 billion people living without access to modern electricity services, limiting education opportunities, health services and quality of life. And there are 2.5 billion people who only have access to biomass for indoor cooking — resulting in more deaths per year than Malaria, according to the World Heath Organization.
Expanding access to these billions of people in energy poverty is one of the most important global challenges of our time, says Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. And not doing it in a way that also addresses climate change will be “the biggest threat multiplier of all,” he says.
“The poor will play the biggest price if we continue business as usual. If countries impacted by climate change don’t have resilience capabilities, they become failed states,” says Yumkella. “We see this as the issue of the century.”
That’s why Yumkella, together with dozens of world leaders and global investors, are working on raising $45 billion per year by 2030 to finance clean projects that expand access to the energy poor — all while doubling the penetration of renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency. In this week’s podcast, we speak with Yumkella about his vision for enabling sustainable, universal energy access with private-sector capital.
“So you look at the whole issue of lack of energy, it means lack of prosperity, it ties down women, it causes high mortality rates. So access and the centrality of energy now to climate security, to food security, water security, and of course, prosperity, is undeniable.”
“We want to make sure that we don’t only rely on top-down, grid-based solutions. Because we do know that in other parts of the world now there are great opportunities for decentralized solutions…We think this is a model for the future.”
The Climate Progress Podcast is a weekly audio program focused on the science and politics of climate change and clean energy. You can find our podcast RSS Feed here.
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