COP27 Failed the Most Climate-Vulnerable
While the climate summit held at Sharm El Sheikh last month prompted pledges of raised funding for solar lanterns and single-panel systems, the money allocated to date is woefully short of what has been estimated would be required to provide universal access to electricity this decade. Drew Corbyn of Netherlands-based global off-grid solar body GOGLA, outlines three urgent courses of action to accelerate access to electricity.
Climate finance for developing countries was top of the agenda at the COP27 climate change summit and is seen as a central element of a just energy transition. Many of the developing countries who have contributed the least to climate change are the most vulnerable to it. Not least because they lack access to modern energy services to help them develop and become more resilient. Shockingly, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates the number of people without access to electricity is set to rise by almost 20 million this year, to 775 million. It would be the first such rise for decades.
Radically expanding electricity access is a moral imperative. Decentralized renewables are the most effective option for reaching hundreds of millions of people living in energy poverty, and to replace highly inefficient diesel generators used by millions more. As the IEA states, there is no pathway to net-zero without first achieving universal electricity access. More than that, without electricity access, the energy poor will be left to combat the ravages of climate change without the tools to address it. Off-grid solar lighting, communications, irrigation, and cooling are vital to build food, energy, and water security; electrify healthcare; power emergency response; and help families, enterprizes, and nations become more resilient to climate risks.
Photo courtesy of Abbie Trayler-Smith/DFID.