Power to the People: sustainable energy for the world's poor
Johannesburg, 26 August - 4 September 2002
Power to the People
Sustainable energy for the world's poor
An ITDGPractical Action forum for action on energy and poverty reduction,
Hall 5, Room 11, Johannesburg Expo Centre (Nasrec),
2nd September, 10am-12noon
ITDGPractical Action facilitated a multi-stakeholder seminar on energy and poverty reduction at the World Summit for Sustainable Development. The event presented five key visions from two inter-governmental organisations, a major private sector company, and leading environmental and developmental NGOs, in response to the question:
How can we deliver sustainable energy solutions to help achieve the UN millennium goal of halving the number of people living in absolute poverty by 2015?
Sustainable Energy for Poverty Reduction - an ITDGPractical Action-Greenpeace joint action plan
- Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist and Head of Economics Analysis Division, International Energy Agency
- Rosa Moreno, Climate Change Campaigner, Greenpeace International
- Damian Miller, Director of Rural Operations, Shell Solar
- Esther Mwangi, National Coordinator, UNDP Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme Kenya
- Tinashe Nhete, Energy Programme Manager, ITDGPractical Action Southern Africa
The event was chaired by Ebbie Dengu, Director ITDGPractical Action Southern Africa.
Below is given an outline of each presentation, plus a short summary of the discussion.
Introduction by the Chair:
Ebbie Dengu, Director, ITDGPractical Action Southern Africa
Mr Dengu welcomed the speakers, commenting on the high level of the speaker’s panel and the breadth of knowledge on the subject that they represented. He also welcomed the audience to the event, stating that while they were small in number, he was sure they would generate active and lively discussion. He then introduced the topic of the meeting, as follows.
How can we deliver sustainable energy solutions to help achieve the UN millennium goal of halving the number of people living in absolute poverty by 2015?
The ultimate objective of the seminar was to encourage all stakeholder groups to work together towards achieving wide scale results in the energy sector, which will significantly benefit the task of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist,
International Energy Agency (IEA)
Dr Birol’s presentation was based around the findings of the IEA’s publication, the World Energy Outlook. At the start of the presentation he posed two questions:
- Are renewables the solution for energy and poverty alleviation?
- How much will it cost to reach the 1.6 billion with no electricity?
Energy and Poverty is a chapter in World Energy Outlook-2002 (WEO-2002), which provides projections of global trends to 2030 in:
- energy supply/demand
- CO2 emissions
- energy trade
- investment requirements etc.
WEO-2002 to be released at the Ministerial Meeting of the Consumer-Producers Dialogue (International Energy Forum) in Osaka, Japan on 21 September 2002.
The aim of Energy and Poverty is to provide hard-data (on a country by country basis) and analysis of the two hallmarks of poverty in developing countries:
- lack of electricity access
- heavy reliance on traditional biomass use
In addition, it gives an outlook to 2030 for electricity access and traditional biomass use for all developing regions within a "Reference Scenario"context and provides a quantitative framework for energy-poverty alleviation strategies.
The WEO has been the result of a ‘grand coalition’ of institutions: World Bank, UN-FAO, TERI, ERI of China, ADB, AFDB, AFREPREN, EC.
Global Energy Poverty
Energy and Poverty - Access to Electricity
Of the1.6 billion people today have no access to electricity, about 80% of these people are located in India (580 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (500 million). Four out of five people lacking access to electricity live in rural areas. By 2030, in the absence of radical new policies, 1.4 billion will still have no electricity.
Traditional Biomass Use
Today 2.4 billion people in developing countries rely heavily on traditional biomass for cooking and heating. The use of biomass in traditional and inefficient ways have significant implications: productivity, health, gender and environment. By 2030, over 2.6 million people in developing countries will continue to rely on biomass.
In the absence of radical new policies, energy poverty will still be a major issue in the next decades. Creating conditions to attract investment is the main challenge. Proper sequencing of market reforms are vital. Investment requirements for power generation in developing countries amount to 2.1 trillion US$ for the next 30 years.
Investment will need to focus on various energy sources, including biomass, for thermal and mechanical applications to bring income-generating activities. Renewable energy technologies may be cost-effective options for specific off-grid application, while conventional fuels and established technologies are likely to be preferred for on-grid capacity expansions.
Rosa Moreno, Climate Change Campaigner,
Ms Moreno presented much of the argument around the win-win argument on poverty alleviation and environmental protection in the ITDGPractical Action/Greenpeace report Sustainable Energy for Poverty Reduction: An Action Plan, which was launched at WSSD.
Rosa posed the question, do we protect the environment or do should we aim at poverty reduction? Here answer was that we can do both. The Africa, Asia and Latin America are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and least able to cope with its effects. Therefore, it is important that they do not go down the same path as industrialised countries.
She said that the North has a very big responsibility to tackle climate change by taking up renewable energy on a large scale. There needs to be political will from all governments, North and South to make it happen. Environment and Development can happen together. Key issues in her presentation are as follows:
Poverty and climate change
Poor people are most vulnerable to global warming because they lack the resources to cope with crises resulting from climate change. If the world continues following a ‘business as usual’ energy path, the current projections of increased energy demand threaten a massive disruption of the global biosphere. Climate change is a direct threat to sustainable development itself, especially in developing countries that are the most vulnerable, yet least able to cope.
Thousands have already died and millions more made into homeless refugees due to extreme weather events caused by the changing climate. The impacts on millions of poor people living in the developing world are harsh and as the IPCC admit "Africa is the continent most vulnerable to the impacts of projected changes because widespread poverty limits adaptation capabilities". Poverty limits their capacity to cope adequately to climate changes such as increased drought, famine, floods, threat of epidemics, cyclones, and other catastrophes.
The rich world is mainly responsible for greenhouse gases and must take the first steps to combat climate change. The paradox is that those who are the most vulnerable to climate change are the ones who have done least to pollute the planet. And the real polluters will be the last to pay.
The Climate Convention acknowledges that the industrialised world is mainly responsible for the build up of greenhouse gases. It calls for "differential and shared responsibilities" so there is "global interdependency and shared responsibility". In other words the poor are least responsible for climate change and efforts to combat the problem must be taken in the first place by the industrialised countries. In the future, developing countries will also need to take measures but without compromising their rightful aspirations to achieve sustainable economic development.
Most governments and politicians in the industrialised world now acknowledge the global impact of climate change. At a limited but significant level, some have even taken the first tentative steps to move away from carbon based fuels and expand renewable energy technologies. However, industrialised countries are selling to developing countries the same sources of energy which are increasingly being rejected in the North. Furthermore, the expansion of large power generating capacity has not been able, and will not be able in the coming decades, to supply the much needed energy services of the poorest people.
The role of sustainable, clean renewable energy
Expanding renewable energy is a win-win objective - cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the industrialised world and getting cheaper energy in the long run to the world’s poor. To achieve the dramatic emissions cuts needed to avoid climate change - of the order of 80 per cent in Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries by 2050 - will require a massive uptake of renewable energy. The targets for renewable energy must be greatly expanded in industrialised countries both to substitute for fossil fuel and nuclear generation and to create the economies of scale necessary for a global expansion of renewable energy.
Fossil fuel and nuclear energy sources are polluting and expensive and, because of local, regional and global impacts, they are unacceptable sources of power for sustainable development. But new sustainable renewable energy sources are developing and prospering, even if they are in an unfair market fighting against huge subsidies, estimated at between US $250 billion and US$300 billion a year, to fossil fuels and nuclear. For example, wind power is a global industry growing at over 30 per cent per year. We have a 20-year window of opportunity in order to choose our global energy pathway.
Shall we choose to continue down the ‘conventional’ energy development path, using fossil fuel and nuclear technologies? Or shall we choose - North and South - to pursue a truly sustainable development path of sustainable, clean renewable energy?
In other words, should the South suffer from the dumping of polluting technologies which locks them in to a cycle of energy production which will become more expensive due to international agreements that will increasingly put a high price on carbon intense fossil fuels? Or should there be an expansion of the new renewable energy that can underpin economic development but not at the expense of the planet and its people?
For the billions of mainly rural poor without access to basic energy services and with no prospects of getting such access under ‘business as usual’ scenarios, renewable energy can often be the cheapest option in the long run, even when the social and environmental costs are currently not included in the costs of fossil fuel technologies. For immediate sustainable purposes, there is clearly a need for public financial support to get these technologies to the places where they’re most needed: rural communities and the urban poor. That said, all renewable sources of energy will need high level political commitment in order to compete with other traditional and polluting sources.
Damian Miller, Director of Rural Operations, Shell Solar
Mr Miller presented Shell’s experiences of introducing PV in rural areas of the developing world since the start of the Shell Solar Rural Programme in 1999. He focused on two examples of Shell’s experience in South Africa and Sri Lanka. He also presented the Shell one million solar homes initiative, which they have registered as a type 2 initiative at WSSD.
Lessons from Shell Solar’s Rural Operations
400 million homes are without grid electricity. Typical substitutes are kerosene lanterns, candles, car batteries, diesel/kerosene generators, etc. 25% of rural homes and shops typically spend US$5 to US$15 per month on these substitutes. They are willing to spend the same or more for better alternatives.
While PV will not solve the urgent problem of cooking, the advantages of PV from a customer perspective include:
- Brighter light at the flip of a switch
- Cooler, more concentrated light
- Television without transporting heavy car batteries 2-4 hours every week
- Regular use of radio without regular cost of dry cell batteries
- Improved earnings from sewing, sorting produce, small attached shops, etc.
- Brighter Lights for village shops without expensive lanterns or generators
- Increasing use for mobile phones and computers in village centres.
The advantages of PV from a government perspective include:
- Cheapest alternative to grid extension in remote unelectrified households - as low as US$100 to US$150
- It increases skills, with trained jobs in rural areas - Business management, door to door selling skills and installation and maintenance.
- Though it does not run machines, it can still increase user income, by providing electricity for village shops and cottage industries, allowing for work in the evening. Also, electricity for children’s studies increasing likelihood of success.
- It mitigates health and environmental impacts by reducing emissions at the point of use.
- It dramatically improves quality of life by bringing convenience, safety, entertainment and connectivity to the home. Also better rural services helps to prevent migration to cities.
Shell Solar Rural Operations
South Africa has a customer base of 4,500, using a fee for service approach with support of the South African Government.
Sri Lanka has a customer base of over 10,000, using a sales and service approach, with support for km IFC/GEF.
Both the Philippines and China are at start-up phase, with support of the Dutch government, and Morocco has over 2,000 customers using a fee for service approach with support of the Government of Morocco.
The challenges for the Rural Operations include:
- Customers are remote, and often dispersed (that is why the grid is not there)
- Stock control from warehouse to branch to customer
- Money collection from customers and field staff, without fraud and theft
- Recruitment and training of door to door sales/technical staff
- High quality installation and after sales service
- Management of large numbers of field staff across large distances
- Management of many branches from HQ with poor communications
There are a number of necessary conditions required for rural PV to work. Customer finance are a challenge because households buy energy for lighting, radio and TV in small amounts, but solar homes cost anywhere between US$100 and US$1,000. On the ground rural operations are critical, but incentives for mainstream business to invest in rural operators is not there. However, without a salesman and technician on their doorstep, rural customers cannot easily buy PV, let alone have it installed and maintained. Finally, there is need for government support both to provide a license to operate where customers want to buy and to limit tax and import duties on solar equipment.
South African Fee for Service
An initiative with the national utility, ESKOM, to reach the 30% of South Africans not connected to the grid. The South African government subsidised the systems by 80%, and the customer pays a set fee for the system each month indefinitely. ESKOM-Shell now have over 50 field staff and 30 staff at head office. They collect fees at 150 village shops, which are overseen by five local branches. In 2000 they reached over 6,000 customers. However, the tariff collection rate is only 70%, so that the government are also thinking of subsidising the tariff. Lessons learned form this operation include:
- The fee for service approach means renting expensive equipment to remote homes, with the risk of theft, tampering, trading and damage by the elements. ESKOM-Shell pick up the bill
- Collecting small amounts of money each month is tough.
- Non-payment of customers means regular de-installation of the system
- Break even and payback has taken longer than hoped.
Sri Lanka Direct Sales and Services
The systems cost US$450. This approach uses a micro-finance partner, with a down payment of US$100 and payback at 24% interest over 5 years. Therefore the user owns the system. There is a World Bank grant of US$100 to US$120. In 2.5 years they have sold over 10,000 systems, through 17 branches, with 150 sales staff, 100 technicians and 80 staff at head office. The programme broke even in one year. There is a follow on GEF/World Bank project, which targets 100,000 sales in five years.
Concept of One Million Solar Homes
This is an initiative tabled at WSSD with the aim of gaining political and financial support. The key aspects of this proposal are:
- Affordability: low interest refinancing for customers
- Attracting rural operators through a grant per unit installed
- Policy reforms and government support
To establish and administer the fund will require:
- Seed capital of US$640 million
- Funds to be held and administered by the GEF and World Bank
- A political champion to mobilise resources
- Target of one million homes between 2003 and 2008
- PV is a solution for customers and government
- Rural operators are challenging
- Fee for service is less attractive business proposition
- Sales and service is more attractive with following in place: customer finance, grant per unit installed and reform of duties and taxes
- Million Solar Homes Fund would support this approach
Esther Mwangi, National Co-ordinator, UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme
Ms Mwengi presented the approach of the UNDP Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme in addressing the issue of energy for the poor, and gave examples of their experiences of working with partners in the field.
GEF Small Grants Programme: Expanding Partnerships at the Community Level for Poverty Alleviation
SGP promotes grassroots initiatives that protect and conserve the environment while at the same time generating sustainable livelihood opportunities. It links Global, National and Local concerns, adopting a transparent, participatory, Country-driven approach to project planning, design and implementation. It has funded more than 3,100 projects in GEF thematic focus areas providing about US$60 million to NGOs and community groups in 63 developing countries since inception in 1992.
Partnerships have been a key to the programme’s success. While grantees are the core partners, other partners include bilateral donors, foundations, international NGOs, national and local government agencies, national environment funds, service organisations, universities and local private companies.
Over US $14 million has gone to more than 650 energy/climate change mitigation activities out of the total value of grants disbursed by the Small Grants Programme. A range of renewable energy and technologies supported: solar power, wind energy, biomass based power, micro-hydro power, sustainable transport and energy efficient systems.
Projects provide practical energy services to households, rural schools and health centres, community enterprises, water pumping, micro-enterprises and transport sector.
Public awareness, education and dissemination of technology are major components of the projects. In many cases, they have influenced national and local policies towards energy service provision to poor and marginalized communities. In our 63 countries 4 GEF Operational Programs are used
- Removing Barriers to Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency (GEF OP5)
- Promoting the Adoption of Renewable Energy by Removing Barriers and Reducing Implementation Costs (GEF OP6)
- Promoting environmentally sustainable transport (GEF OP11).
- Integrated Ecosystem management (cross-cutting issues) (GEF OP12)
The maximum grant per project is US$ 50,000. The average grants size for energy and Climate Change projects is US$22,000. About 49% of the projects are renewable energy projects, 25% energy efficiency projects, 24% Land degradation and 2% environmentally sustainable transport
Examples of Renewable Energy projects (Solar power)
- In Egypt solar tunnel drier technology was introduced to farmers dealing in commercialization of medicinal plants
- In Kenya, 220 poor homes have installed solar technology for lighting and operating electronic equipment. Collectively saving about US$22,000 a year for the households.
- In Kazahkstan, Kyzylorda maternity house has been fitted with solar water heaters replacing coal.
- In Dominican Republic, 4,300 solar panels have been sold and installed by small entrepreneurs trained through SGP support.
Examples of Renewable Energy (RE) projects (wind power and hydro power)
- In Sri- Lanka, Six wind turbines are used for electrification of 6 households providing important lessons to the community, development sector and the Government
- In Bolivia, a community micro hydro power has been installed giving power for lighting and processing of peanuts for income generation
- In Kenya a micro hydro power plant installed for powering a village industrial mini park.
Examples of Energy Efficiency (EE) projects
- In Jordan, 50 young energy auditors have been trained to help industries reduce inefficiency in their operations
- In the Dominican Republic, old refrigerators using CFC-12 are being modified to hydrocarbon in order to improve their efficiency and make them ozone friendly
- In Kenya, 140 schools have installed energy efficient stoves that saves 60% wood fuel, thus saving wood fuel equal to about 280 hectares of forest land p.a.
Examples of SGP Energy Efficiency (EE) projects
- In Zimbabwe 12 selected Small, Medium and Informal Sector Enterprises in Zimbabwe are benefiting from adoption of methods of production which use energy efficiently, generate less emissions, effluents and wastes than traditional practices.
E-centers for poverty alleviation and connectivity
- In Kenya, a combination of solar power and bushmail nodes/radio telephony will be used to establish E-centers for communities. They will be used for E mail and other electronic micro-enterprises.
Examples of SGP environmentally sustainable transport (EST) projects
- In Guatemala, a vehicular emission monitoring is expected to help establish a gases testing workshop at Quetzaltenango
- In Jordan, an intensive monitoring program of vehicle emissions formed the bases for new standards and the procedure adopted for the annual vehicle testing requirements helping reduce cost and improve health.
SGP energy projects achieve the primary objectives of benefiting the global environment and improving the livelihoods of communities, by providing energy services in form of :
- Agricultural processing
- Health &Education
- Water (irrigation and drinking)
- Information and entertainment
- Job creation
- Sustainable transport services
- Supporting micro enterprises
- Household lighting and heating
- E-centers to bridge the digital divide
Dissemination of lessons learnt is key, as is exchange of expertise from country to country.
The SGP is right on the spirit of WSSD, both for the environment and for poverty alleviation and involving rural communities. The Third Replenishment of the GEF is a welcome move by donors. The Millennium Goals are silent on energy and yet it is a prerequisite for poverty alleviation. The SGP is looking for New Partnerships in the energy sector given its comparative advantages of a well established 63- country network, tested decentralized funding mechanism and very low overheads.
Tinashe Nhete, Energy Programme Manager,
ITDGPractical Action Southern Africa
Mr Nhete presented the ITDGPractical Action position on energy and poverty alleviation, as outlined in the ITDGPractical Action position paper, Power to the People: sustainable energy solutions for the world’s poor. The key points of his presentation are as follows.
The three challenges for energy and poverty reduction are:
Challenge 1: Sustainable energy for cooking
Nearly 2.4 million people, mostly children, die each year because their homes are polluted with smoke from cooking fires. Many people in developing countries spend up to a third of their income on energy, most of which is for cooking. Women spend up to three hours a day collecting firewood, walking up to ten kilometres and carrying 35kg of wood. More efficient stoves can reduce the amount of fuel used. In addition, simple, low-cost solutions to deadly indoor air pollution are available, including chimney stoves, smoke hoods, switching to cleaner fuels and improved ventilation.
Challenge 2: Getting renewable electricity to the rural poor
Many of the 1.6 billion people who lack access to electricity live in rural areas that are far from transmission grids. Decentralised renewable energy options can use resources more efficiently, empower local communities, develop indigenous technological and manufacturing capacity and deliver strong environmental benefits.
Challenge 3: Sustainable energy for the urban poor
Urbanisation is one of the defining trends of the developing world today. Many poor people living in cities depend on wood and charcoal for fuel, which contributes to both air pollution and deforestation. In the short to medium term fossil fuels will continue to be the main alternative fuel for poor urban households. However, innovative technologies like solar water heaters, waste-to-energy and biogas need to be developed to deliver sustainable long term solutions.
Sustainable, clean energy is a critical factor in achieving the Millennium Development Goals
A few examples of this include:
Halving extreme poverty: improved energy services free up time spent gathering fuel wood and increases income and employment through enterprise that need energy (such as workshops, saw mills, welding and metal work, etc.)
Achieving universal education: modern energy will provide extended study opportunities in the evening. Access to information and communication technologies and long distance learning materials.
Reducing mortality and improving health: sustainable, clean energy will benefit health through reducing indoor air pollution from household smoke, and providing better health facilities through vaccination refrigeration and modern health equipment.
Agenda for Change
Addressing the three challenges set out above will play an invaluable role in delivering the Millennium Development Goals. To do that the World Summit on Sustainable Development must commit to a plan of action and clear targets to get sustainable energy to world’s poor, as follows:
1. Put energy at the heart of poverty reduction strategies. There is general agreement on the need for a ‘joined-up’ approach to energy and poverty reduction. It is essential that energy strategies for poor people are incorporated into national and international development frameworks. In particular, national Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) in developing countries should explicitly state the energy services required to achieve their poverty reduction goals.
2. Provide aid support to sustainable energy options for the poor. Development assistance must recognise that the principal energy need of the poor remains cooking. Bi-lateral and multi-lateral agencies should therefore provide increased support for clean cooking strategies in order to achieve the target of halving deaths from indoor air pollution. The total grant funding from aid sources to subsidise the access of one billion people to electricity would average approximately $300 per electrical connection and less for fuel switching or low-pollution cooking methods.
The majority of this funding would need to be spent in Africa and South Asia. Assuming an average household size of five people, the total cost would be of the order of $4.6 billion a year until 2015 - this does not include the cost of fuel switching. The annual global subsidy for conventional energy is $250-300 billion. Increased aid can deliver this figure - and it would be highly undesirable for it to be added to the existing burden of debt of the poorest countries. The WSSD has an opportunity for governments to commit to this level of grant funding and make a significant impact on the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.
3. Shift trade and subsidy policies towards renewable energy. Bi-lateral trade, subsidy and export credit policies in the energy sector are currently focused overwhelmingly on large scale fossil fuel technologies. Trade policy must be redirected towards sustainable energy and the creation of a level playing field for renewable energy technologies, particularly by reducing import duties on renewable energy technologies.
4. Develop financing mechanisms to reach the grass roots. A critical factor in making sustainable, decentralised energy options accessible to poor people is affordability. The up front cost of new technologies, whether an improved cook stove or a micro-hydro power plant, is extremely high for poor people. Appropriate financing and subsidies can give low income communities, households or entrepreneurs the ability to afford to invest in new energy technologies. Achieving this aim will require a sustained effort by the international community, as well as new local partnerships involving NGOs and private sector. There are good practice models that can be replicated. These success stories must be learned from to produce ‘smarter’ financing models.
5. Increase national capacity for sustainable energy. Developing countries need support in creating an environment in which renewable and sustainable energy technology can be effectively developed. The most urgent areas for capacity building in countries are:
- Basic national assessments of local resources for renewable energy. Without this, it is very difficult to plan for renewable energy development. Donor agencies should see this as a priority for external assistance.
- Technical standards for quality assurance in the renewable energy sector, to ensure reliability and consumer confidence in the technologies. Standards of service of electrical utilities may not be appropriate in areas of very low demand, and a lower quality (for example based on battery charging) may provide a great improvement in energy service at a lower cost than conventional grid extension.
- Business and technical training and strengthening of Business Development Service Providers to support small and medium sized enterprise (SME) activity in renewable energy service and equipment supply.
- Encouragement to local finance institutions to target renewable energy as a sound investment.
6. Leverage private sector partnerships to target the poor. While developed countries are leading the way in increasing the viability of renewable energy technologies, there is a clear need also to support the development of local technical skills and knowledge needed in developing countries. The private sector - particularly in the technology and banking sectors - needs to be encouraged to form local partnerships to supply services which are accessible and appropriate to the poor. Again, mechanisms such as the CDM and the GEF should lead international policy by creating opportunities and reducing risks for the private sector to work along side entrepreneurs in developing countries.
7. Engage the poor as active partners in delivering change. People living in poverty must have their say in the prioritisation of energy options if energy policy and services are to meet their needs and provide long term solutions. In energy sector planning, as elsewhere, the poor themselves are too frequently the invisible stakeholders. Evidence shows that if the primary stakeholders are involved in the design and implementation of development initiatives they are much more likely to bring prolonged benefits. Local communities possess invaluable local expertise that should be taken into account in defining and implementing any energy project. Projects characterised by high levels of community engagement will typically generate a greater sense of community empowerment, ensure that improvements are tailored to a community’s specific needs, and create a much higher chance that the improvements will be well maintained by the community after installation.
Difficulties at the venue meant that there was little time for discussion before the next WSSD side event was due to take over the meeting room. Therefore, what follows is a very brief outline of the speakers responses to questions from the delegates.
Dr Birol was asked to answer his own question, ‘Are renewables the solution for energy and poverty alleviation?’. In reply he said that he thought that it is the responsibility of the North to take action on climate change, as the North is the main producer of green house gases. In the South the first priority should be poverty reduction. While renewables will have a role in the energy mix for poor people, climate change should be the secondary priority.
In response, Ms Moreno said that climate change is a very important issue in developing countries due to their vulnerability and their opportunity now to go down a sustainable renewable path. While she agreed that it is the North (especially the USA) who must make the major change, the South have the opportunity now to go down the win-win path of sustainable energy for poverty reduction.
Mr Miller answered a number of questions about the Shell operation. He said that Shell Solar are exploring new countries to move into with their rural operation, including Kenya. Most of the spare parts, such as batteries and light bulbs are generic and can be replaced with non-Shell manufactured equipment, therefore not tying the user to use only one type of spares. The batteries do have highly toxic chemicals in them, which means that the solar programmes do need carefully managed battery recycling controls. On the question as to whether renewables were the answer poverty reduction he said that they are the solution for part of the problem.
There was a final question to all the speakers. The delegate asked, quite provocatively, how presentations related to people who want to see real change in their lives now. She felt they had not provide a solution to the immediate needs of the poor to solve their energy access difficulties. The answer to this from ITDGPractical Action was that ITDGPractical Action do work directly with communities to find solutions for their own communities.
The session ended with a brief summary from Mr Dengu and thanks to both speakers and the delegates for their participation.
Sustainable Energy for Poverty Reduction - an ITDGPractical Action-Greenpeace joint action plan
ITDGPractical Action held an initial seminar on energy and poverty in London on 17 July 2002. Read the full report here.