|Energy as a Tool for Sustainable Development for African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries (EC - UNDP, 1999, 89 p.)|
|CHAPTER 1: ENERGY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT|
The traditional methods of addressing energy problems in developing countries provide inadequate solutions. The unsustainable use of biomass is endangering the future availability of this energy source in many countries. The use of fossil fuels, which will necessarily continue to constitute an important part of energy supply for most developing countries, cannot simply be transferred from industrialised countries, where the conditions are completely different and adequate infrastructures have been in place for a long time, to countries that still have to emerge from underdevelopment. Fortunately, new technological solutions are available today, which, together with new insight into the essential requirements of development, may help to find the appropriate solutions.
"The traditional methods of addressing energy problems in developing countries provide inadequate solutions.
Fortunately, new technological solutions are available today, which, together with new insight into the essential requirements of development, may help to find the appropriate solutions."
It is now clear that development, in order to be sustained over a long period of time, must not destroy the resources on which it depends. The objective of sustainable development is therefore not only economic growth: it is also social development, the eradication of poverty, improvement of health, conservation of natural resources, environmental protection, and a better quality of life.
In the field of energy, sustainability, rather than physical scarcity of resources, has become the main driver for change. Although it is possible in principle to give a precise definition of "sustainable energy"(Daly, 1991), this is of limited interest in the present context, because a transition to a fully sustainable system cannot be achieved in the short or medium term; moreover the conditions of sustainability should be respected globally, and not necessarily by each individual country. This is especially true for the poorest developing countries; many of the ACP countries contribute very little to global pollution and climate change but desperately need energy services for survival and sustainable development.
Sustainable development is made up of three equally important factors: economic development, social development, and protection of the environment.
THE ECONOMIC DIMENSION
Development does not need energy per se, but rather the services that energy can supply. Providing the same services with less energy, or more services with the same energy, is better for the environment and sustainability, and saves money. Only rarely can energy services and development be "decoupled", but the ratio between growth and energy consumption can be; it often costs less to invest in energy efficiency than to produce more energy.
"Development does not need energy per se, but rather the services that energy can supply."
This focus on energy use highlights the folly of planning energy in isolation. While energy is vital to industrial development, agriculture, social development, and health, for example, its role is not always acknowledged, and consequently the way in which the necessary energy is produced, distributed, and used is inadequately and unimaginatively planned. It is essential to identify all the energy components in projects which are not earmarked as energy projects, and to plan them according to the criteria of sustainability, including least cost over the entire life cycle.
THE SOCIAL DIMENSION
The social implications of the way in which energy is produced, delivered, and used (UNDP, 1995; Reddy et al., 1997) include links between energy and:
· demography and population growth;
· gender roles and the promotion of women;
· undernutrition and food;
· poverty and distribution of wealth;
· job creation and employment;
· investment and foreign exchange;
· water availability;
· land degradation, deforestation, and desertification; and
· national security and peace.
"The greater availability of commercial energy in cities is one of the driving forces behind urban migration. Supplying energy at reasonable prices to rural areas could contribute, along with other factors, to a decline in rates of urbanisation."
The availability of energy to provide water supply and sanitation or refrigerators for vaccines, for example, will have a great impact on health. Freeing rural people (usually women and children) from the daily routine of collecting fuelwood or carrying drinking water over long distances makes them available for more productive work or for education, both of which lead to future income opportunities and reduced population growth. Energy is just one aspect of development, and all other factors have to evolve concurrently. Some correlations between social improvement and energy availability tend to imply a cause-effect relationship which is often not a direct one.
Urbanisation is a key social trend in developing countries, and one in which energy is an important component. The greater availability of commercial energy in cities is one of the driving forces behind urban migration. Supplying energy at reasonable prices to rural areas could contribute, along with other factors, to a decline in rates of urbanisation.
Each of these connections deserves deeper analysis. However, the link between energy systems and social impacts depends very much on the particular context. Some specific examples will be given in Chapters 2 and 3.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL DIMENSION
The environmental effects of energy use are a heavy burden for developing countries, even when very little useful energy is actually produced or consumed. Acute environmental problems are widespread in developing countries; they cause severe health and economic problems, and degrade peoples quality of life. Indoor air pollution from cooking with fuelwood or agricultural residues on primitive stoves in poorly ventilated dwellings is a major cause of respiratory, illnesses, eye problems, and burns, especially for women and children.
Despite the relatively small number of private vehicles, air quality in many of the large urban centres in developing countries is generally worse than in the metropolitan areas of industrialised countries because of the use of older cars and leaded fuel, and because of the burning of wood and charcoal using only basic technologies both for domestic needs (principally cooking and space-heating) and for energy generation in small businesses. Energy systems can pollute the soil and also the water through mining, burning, accidental oil-spills, and acid precipitation, for example. The serious indirect environmental effects of traditional energy systems include the depletion of wood resources, which contribute in some cases to deforestation and desertification, and which may endanger biodiversity.
Burning fossil fuels without adequate environmental controls is the main cause of acid precipitation, with regional (and transnational) consequences on agricultural productivity, the preservation of ecosystems and the quality of inland water bodies, and the conservation of buildings and structures. Although the ACP countries included in this report are less affected by acid precipitation than some developing countries in Asia and Latin America, some Central African countries and Pacific island states already have acidic soil and so are very sensitive.
Energy systems account for the largest share of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) which threaten the stability of the global climate. The potential effects of climate change on health have recently been analysed by the World Health Organization (Michael et al., 1996). Energy systems have been the focus of recent attention from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, which assigns legally binding emission reduction targets, will greatly influence the energy policies of its signatories who will have different responsibilities but a common goal. Furthermore, the Clean Development Mechanism, under the Kyoto Protocol, through which parties can meet part of their emission reduction targets by financing initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, will help to lever financial support for sustainable energy development by providing additional benefits to investors.
It is particularly unfair that the ACP countries in this report, which contribute an almost negligible share of greenhouse gas emissions, are among the countries most likely to be affected by climate change: global warming could further reduce the agricultural productivity of the arid countries in Africa, while the ensuing sea-level rise, as well as the possible increasing number and intensity of typhoons during climate transition periods, will threaten small island states.
ERADICATION OF POVERTY
The eradication of poverty depends on the resolution of social, economic, and environmental problems. Development is happening in diverse ways and at very different speeds from country to country. Within each country, improvements in living standards are far from equal or homogeneous. And while some developing countries have achieved significant economic growth rates and impressive reductions in poverty, the process of development and globalisation has left other countries increasingly marginalised, with their already low living standards deteriorating further.
The countries specifically considered in this report, Sub-Saharan Africa and Small Island Developing States of Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, include some of the poorest countries in the world. In Sub-Saharan African countries the per-capita GNP dropped by 18% between 1980 and 1995 (the GNP having increased 26%, but the population grew by 54% in the same period).
Moreover, most people in these countries live in rural areas and work in the agricultural sector, which adds to their difficulties. Energy has very much to do with it. "... two billion people live below the poverty line. For the poor, a better life first means... access to jobs, food, health services, education, housing, running water, sewage etc. In providing for these needs, energy is an important element... energy becomes an instrument for the eradication of poverty only when it is directed deliberately and specifically toward the needs of the poor." (Goldemberg and Johansson, 1995). The poor pay a disproportionate price for the energy services they use, and not just in monetary terms: "Poverty and scarcity of energy services go hand in hand, and exist in a synergistic relationship... The poor pay a much higher price for their energy services than any other group in society. The price can be measured in terms of time and labour, economics, health, and social inequity, particularly for women"(Batlivala, 1997).
"The poor pay a disproportionate price for the energy services they use, and not just in monetary terms."
Providing energy to the rural areas is a major challenge. "There are nearly two billion people without access to modern forms of energy, such as electricity and oil... Practical and affordable prescriptions are available. Biofuels [as used today, inefficiently] help trap the user in poverty. They can also damage peoples health... In many countries, the number of people without electricity has risen more than the number of people connected to the grid"(World Bank, 1996).