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Energy equity: will the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative make a difference

IIED Energy Forum, Emma Wilson, Ben Garside

IIED Briefing, 4 pages

Access to affordable modern energy services may not be a Millennium
Development Goal (MDG) but without it, sustainable development, indeed the MDGs themselves, cannot be achieved. Yet energy access remains an area of great global inequity. On one hand, wealthy countries and communities consume vast amounts of often subsidised energy resources every day. On the other hand, 1-in-5 people lives with no access to grid electricity, and around 40 per cent of the world’s population (nearly three billion people) lack the technologies to make cooking fuels clean, safe and efficient. This briefing discusses whether the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative in 2012 can redress the balance. Perhaps, but only if it puts improving the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable at the heart of its efforts.

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One in five people around the world – 1.3 billion people – lack electricity to light their homes or run their businesses, while wealthy countries consume vast amounts of electricity every day. IIED’s energy team works to promote access to sustainable energy for the poorest communities and a more equitable consumption of energy resources. Energy access is an area of great inequity. Access to sustainable modern energy services underpins health, education and livelihoods and increases resilience to climate change – yet millions of people have no access to electricity and use dangerous and unhealthy fuels for lighting and cooking.

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Improving people’s access to sustainable energy

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