"Asian brown cloud" shows the need for action
The UN report on the 'Asian brown cloud' that threatens the lives of one million of Asia's poorest people is a stark illustration of how poverty and the environment are intertwined. It also showed the urgent need to agree a rapid growth of clean sustainable energy at the August 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD, also called the Earth Summit).
Excessive burning of fossil fuels by industry, power stations, transport, plus forest fires have poured pollution into the atmosphere along with wood burning fires for used by poor people for cooking.
Poor families rely almost entirely on wood and dung for their basic household energy needs - cooking, heating and lighting. Undoubtedly this does add to atmospheric pollution but the real impact is in the home. Indoor pollution from these fires kills nearly two million women and children each year.
Meanwhile the argument inside the UK government on the WSSD mirrors a general myth that we either deal with world poverty or the environment, we cannot do both. This is a false dilemma. We can save lives without costing the earth. This is the 'double-bottom line' that had to be met at WSSD.
Crucial to meeting the challenge of poverty reduction and environment was the rapid expansion of clean, sustainable and renewable - 'green' - energy. This will cut down greenhouse gas emission in the rich world. It will also provide basic modern clean energy services to the two billion people - a third of humanity - living in the poor world who currently have no such access.
At the World Summit in Johannesburg it was crucial that world leaders agree a global action plan to provide clean, sustainable energy to the world's poorest people.
Earth Summit energy agreement a sham 3rd September 2002
70,000 reasons why the Summit failed: the WSSD agreement on access to energy, targets and subsidies is a sham offering little hope of getting clean energy to almost a third of humanity.
- Power to the People: sustainable energy for the world’s poor -
an agenda for change
- Choose Positive Energy: a joint campaign for sustainable energy solutions
- Smoke and Health: an ITDGPractical Action project to reduce indoor air pollution from cooking stoves
- Power to the People: an ITDGPractical Action seminar on energy and poverty reduction, held in London on 17 July 2002
- ITDGPractical Action's position on the realities of renewable energy and poverty reduction
- Why energy is fundamental to improving the lives of poor people
- Technical solutions to energy needs must be accessible, affordable and appropriate
- ITDGPractical Action's energy programme
Smoke: the Killer in the Kitchen
In its report, Smoke: the Killer in the Kitchen, ITDGPractical Action is calling for global action to save the lives of 1.6 million men, women and children lost each year to lethal levels of household smoke.
- Smoke and health
- Read the report
- Summary of the report
- Read the report online
- Download the report
- Buy a copy from ITDG Publishing
- Find out more: key questions and answers
- Further information
UNEP website and report on the pollution cloud
BBC News 11 August 2002: Asian haze poses 'widespread threat'
The Independent 12 August 2002: 'Brown haze' is blanketing Asia and changing weather, warn scientists
The Guardian 12 August 2002: You thought it was wet? Wait until the Asian brown cloud hits town
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