Ending Energy Poverty vs. Climate Change Mitigation: New at Reason

Ending energy poverty should be prioritized over efforts to prevent climate change


Dhrupal Jetha/Dreamstime

Some 1.2 billion people do not have access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook 2016 report. About 2.7 billion still cook and heat their dwellings with wood, crop residues, and dung. In its main scenario for the trajectory of global energy consumption, the IEA projects that in 2040, half a billion people will still lack access to electricity and 1.8 billion will still be cooking and heating by burning biomass. In its new report, Energy for Human Development, the eco-modernist Breakthrough Institute make the case that ending energy poverty for hundreds of millions of poor people should be prioritized over efforts to mitigate future climate change. They correctly argue that "it is untenable morally and practically to insist that global climate change targets be balanced upon the backs of the poorest people on earth."