Beyond coal: Scaling up clean energy to fight poverty
Eradicating global poverty is within reach, but under threat from a changing climate. Left unchecked, climate change will put at risk our ability to lift people out of extreme poverty permanently by 2030, the first target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Coal is the world’s number one source of CO2 emissions. Most historic emissions came from the coal industry in the developed world in the last century, with China joining the biggest emitters at the beginning of this one. It is widely accepted that a rapid and just response to climate change will require the urgent replacement of coal with low-carbon energy sources in rich economies. Better energy options also exist to lift people out of income poverty in the developing world. These can deliver not just universal energy access, but also lift people’s incomes by powering economic development and employment.
The coal industry claims that expanding coal use is critical to fighting extreme poverty and improving energy access for billions of people in developing countries. In fact, the opposite is true.
The global commitment to eradicate extreme poverty and energy poverty by 2030 does not require the expansion of coal power, and it is incompatible with stabilizing the earth’s climate. The evidence is clear: a lasting solution to poverty requires the world’s wealthiest economies to renounce coal, and we can and must end extreme poverty without the precipitous expansion of new coal power in developing ones.
An urgent shift to renewable and efficient energy systems is required to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement, SDG1 on eradicating global poverty by 2030 and SDG7 on universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030,
The following actions must be prioritized:
- G20 governments must stop all forms of subsidy for fossil fuels.
- All forms of public support for coal capacity expansion should be phased out.
- All support for energy through bilateral and multilateral channels must prioritize the delivery of SDG7 on ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.
- Development institutions must apply monitoring and reporting frameworks that track the poverty reduction and development impact of their energy support.
- Developing and emerging economies should develop plans for a sustainable and socially just energy shift, in line with implementing the SDGs and their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, identifying support needed from development partners.
- Public and private finance must be more transparent about exposure to carbon risk.
For a more detailed discussion of these issues see the report (click here) ‘Beyond Coal: Scaling up clean energy to fight poverty’ a collaboration of the the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (UK), the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (India), Christian Aid (UK), the Institute for Development Studies (UK), the Institute for Essential Service Reform (Indonesia), the Overseas Development Institute (UK), Oxfam International, Practical Action (UK), the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (US), and the Vasudha Foundation (India).
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace adds our name to this initiative.