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close this bookEnergy after Rio - Prospects and Challenges - Executive Summary (UNDP, 1997, 38 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentForeword
View the documentNotes on the Authors and Contributors
View the documentAbstract
View the document1. Introduction
close this folder2. Energy and Major Global Issues
View the document(introduction...)
close this folder2.1 Energy and Social Issues
View the document2.1.1 Poverty
View the document2.1.2 Gender Disparity
View the document2.1.3 Population
View the document2.1.4 Undernutrition and Food
close this folder2.2 Energy and Environment
View the document2.2.1 Health
View the document2.2.2 Acidification
View the document2.2.3 Climate Change
View the document2.2.4 Land Degradation
close this folder2.3 Energy and the Economy
View the document(introduction...)
View the document2.3.1 Investment Requirements of Energy
View the document2.3.2 Foreign Exchange Impacts of Energy Imports
close this folder2.4 Energy and Security
View the document(introduction...)
View the document2.4.1 Energy and National Security
View the document2.4.2 Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation
View the document2.5 Energy and Global Issues: The Implications
close this folder3. New Opportunities in Energy Demand, Supply and Systems
View the document3.1 Introduction
View the document3.2 Demand Side: Energy and Energy-Intensive Materials Efficiency
View the document3.3 Supply Side: Renewables and Clean Fossil Fuel Technologies
View the document3.4 Fuels and Stoves for Cooking
close this folder4. Sustainable Strategies
View the document4.1 Global Energy Scenarios
View the document4.2 Implications for the Developing World
View the document4.3 Implications for Energy Exporting Economies
close this folder4.4 Some General Implications of Sustainable Energy Systems
View the document4.4.1 Energy and the Economy
View the document4.4.2 Energy and Poverty
View the document4.4.3 Creating Jobs
View the document4.4.4 Women
View the document4.4.5 Rural Development
View the document4.4.6 Urban Development
View the document4.4.7 Energy and the Environment
View the document4.4.8 Energy and Security
View the document4.5 Conclusions
View the document5. Making It Happen: Energy for Sustainable Development
View the documentGlossary of Abbreviations

2.1.1 Poverty

people living in poverty pay a higher price per unit of energy services than do the rich

Poverty is indisputably among the world’s largest, most urgent and most fundamental issues. Despite this, poverty has received scant attention from an energy perspective. This neglect of the poverty-energy nexus is most surprising since energy is of vital importance to the satisfaction of basic needs, particularly nutrition and health.

A large proportion of humanity does not enjoy the benefits that modern energy sources and devices bring. About 2 billion people still cook using traditional fuels, and 1.5-2 billion people are without access to electricity.

Energy services constitute a sizeable share of total household expenditure in developing countries. People living in poverty pay a higher price per unit of energy services than do the rich. They also spend more time obtaining these energy services. The substitution of modern energy carriers and more efficient energy conversion devices would confer sizeable gains in purchasing power on poor urban households. Improvements in energy efficiency have considerable potential to reduce poverty in all of its key dimensions, and to facilitate development.

improvements in energy efficiency have considerable potential to reduce poverty

Patterns of energy consumption among people living in poverty tend to further worsen their misery. Firstly, because these people spend a higher proportion of their income on energy, they are less likely to accumulate the investments necessary to make use of less costly or higher quality energy sources. Secondly, the use of traditional fuels has a negative impact on the health of household members, especially when burned indoors without either a proper stove to help control the generation of smoke, or a chimney to vent the smoke outside.

Policies and programmes that directly address the creation of opportunities for people living in poverty to improve the level and quality of their energy services (by making more efficient use of commercial and non-commercial energy and by shifting to higher quality energy carriers) will allow the poor to enjoy both short-term and self-reinforcing long-term improvements in their standard of living. By contrast, the standard poverty-alleviation strategies - macro-economic growth, human capital investment, and redistribution - do not focus on the energy-poverty nexus in developing countries. If energy is left out of poverty elimination strategies, such as those promised by the Copenhagen Social Summit, these strategies are doomed to fail.