|Sustainable Energy Strategies - Materials for Decision-makers (SEED - UNDP, 2000, 208 p.)|
"Materials for Decision-Makers" presented here are divided into four parts:
· overview of the challenges and opportunities relating to energy and sustainable development;
· special topics concerning energy and development;
· technological prospects for sustainable energy; and enabling frameworks for sustainable energy.
The scope of each of the four sections and the specific topics discussed under those sections are briefly summarised below.
Chapter 1 provides an overview of the various linkages between energy and sustainable development. It focuses on the fact that the level of energy services, rather than the supply of energy, seriously impacts major issues of sustainable human development, such as poverty, gender inequality, food security, population, and environmental degradation. Presently, many of these concerns are linked directly or indirectly to the fact that vast segments of humanity do not have access to clean, affordable, and efficiently derived energy services. In fact, about 2 billion people are entirely reliant on traditional biomass fuels and muscle power to meet their energy needs, while others have access to more efficient energy services that require them to expend far less time, effort and money.
At the same time, there are numerous technological and institutional opportunities to improve the widespread availability of energy services and address major global concerns. On the demand side, some of these opportunities in commercial and residential buildings, industry, and transportation include more efficient household lighting and heating systems, improved industrial motors and processes, and public transportation replacing private vehicles, respectively. Similarly, on the supply side, many opportunities are available to use cleaner fossil fuels like natural gas rather than coal, and to promote the widespread use of renewables, such as biomass, wind, and solar energy. Improved cookstoves and fuels for cooking and heating are also important considerations for addressing a vast set of problems associated with the dependence on traditional biomass by the majority of those living in poverty. Institutional change towards sustainable energy requires the availability of technology, finance, political commitment, and organisational innovation.
Special Topics Relating to Energy and Sustainable Human Development
Among all issues of sustainable development, the most pressing is poverty alleviation. Tackling poverty alleviation requires dealing with the many aspects of such issues as gender, the environment, job creation, and governance. This section deals with two topics of such importance. One is the relation between energy and gender, and the other is the Clean Development Mechanism. The two topics pose complex and challenging issues for development activities and represent important entry points for approaching the goal of poverty alleviation. The Special Topics section is going to be expanded to cover more topics in the future.
Chapter 2 focuses closely on genders relevance to sustainable energy. Although gender inequality results from culturally-established differences in the roles and status of men and women within particular societies, sustainable energy policies can be used as entry points for promoting greater equity in the allocation of opportunities and resources. This is mainly because women are often the primary users and managers of energy resources, as well as the providers of its services (e.g., collecting, transporting, and using traditional fuels like wood charcoal and dung) who endure energys adverse social and environmental impacts (e.g., adverse health effects from cooking over smoky indoor fires). By incorporating a gender perspective into energy policies and programmes, womens concerns and experiences, as well as mens, can be included in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
Chapter 3 examines the opportunities offered by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for developing countries to advance their sustainable development objectives, primarily through energy initiatives, while contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The underlying premise is that UNDP seeks to identify, finance, and implement programmes and policies that simultaneously stimulate sustainable development and limit greenhouse gasses. The CDM could aid the development prospects of developing countries by stimulating technological "leapfrogging" and generating new investments. While effective guidelines for the setup and operation of the CDM will be required to attract private sector investments to developing countries, ensure equity of access, and provide real, measurable emissions reductions, the CDM has the potential to serve as an effective mechanism for achieving sustainable development objectives.
Opportunities for Sustainable Energy
This section discusses promising opportunities for sustainable energy systems in order to make energy a tool for sustainable development.
In Chapters 4 and 5, the prospects for introducing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies in developing countries are examined in some detail. Decentralised and grid-connected power generation options using biomass, solar, wind and small hydropower have benefited from rapid technology improvements and lessons learned through practical experience, both of which have resulted in vastly lower prices than even a few years ago. In addition to their environmental benefits as compared with conventional alternatives, these technologies can potentially provide opportunities to greatly improve energy services, reduce womens burden, and generate additional income in rural areas. Similarly, the potential for economically feasible energy efficiency improvement in agriculture, industry, transport, and buildings for the next 20 years is estimated at 25-35 percent in most industrialised and developing countries. Implementing the actual improvements on both fronts are going to depend on the status of technology, availability of financing, and institutional considerations.
Enabling Frameworks for Sustainable Energy
Implementation of sustainable energy will require innovative strategies. These include policy reforms, market liberalisation, creation of innovative financial mechanisms, and so forth. Among these issues, Chapters 6 and 7 highlight two particular issues of concern for most decision-makers: policy frameworks and financing issues.
Chapter 6 describes the institutional constraints and challenges to implementing energy reform, as well as present measures to overcome them. Apart from governmental agencies, private businesses, NGOs, and various associations need to play roles in the transformation. Notwithstanding the technological promise of new renewable energy technologies and of advanced methods for energy efficiency, policies to facilitate their market diffusion must be transparent and gradually enforced, with a view to addressing public concerns and learning from field experience.
Chapter 7 highlights the importance of access to credit and affordability of energy services. There are numerous micro-financing options for energy services (i.e., financing at the local level), including direct loans, leasing, and fee-for-service through energy service companies or other financial intermediaries. Implementing any of these options would, in turn, require addressing institutional problems through such measures as removal of market distortions to generate demand, forming strategic partnerships with NGOs, local consumer associations, and financial institutions, reducing transaction costs, and bundling projects together to achieve efficiencies of scale.