UN Goal Looms: Ending Energy Poverty


"Some 1.4 billion people lack access to electricity."

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals were adopted in 2000 as a commitment to improve health and education as well as end poverty in less fortunate parts of the globe. The eight goals include targets like universal childhood education, reducing infant mortality and ensuring environmental sustainability.

This year there has been a growing movement to add a ninth goal: ending energy poverty. Some 1.4 billion people lack access to electricity. Energy experts like Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the International Energy Agency, say that erasing energy poverty should be added because providing people with electricity is often a precondition for solving the eight other problems.

Hospitals without electricity have a hard time keeping vaccines and medicines cold enough or sterilizing equipment properly. If a village lacks electricity to light schools and homes, it is hard for children to do their homework.

In a new report released in part last month during a high-level gathering of the United Nations General Assembly, the International Energy Agency (IEA) calculated that it would take $36 million a year for the next 20 years to achieve "universal access to modern energy" by 2030.

That could be accomplished with only a minor bump in global greenhouse emissions because many parts of the world—principally rural regions not yet connected to an electricity grid—can best be electrified with renewable energy sources.

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