Greater Investment Required For Universal Energy Access

4 million lives are lost each year to household air pollution. This means that annually, a population roughly the size of Los Angeles dies as a consequence of traditional cooking methods still practiced by poverty stricken families of the global south. In an attempt to raise awareness of the need for the adequate power grids necessary to ameliorate the toxic effects of indoor air pollution, policymakers are calling for increased funding towards universal energy access.

Researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria recently published a study showing that an annual investment of between 65 to 86 billion dollars a year for the next 17 years would allow for universal energy access. Why is universal energy access the solution to indoor air pollution? In order to reduce fatalities by up to 1.8 million by 2030, clean combusting cooking fuels and electric ovens must be made available –via greater energy investment – to poverty stricken areas.

Regarding universal energy access, IIASA researcher Dr. Shonali Pachauri remarked that, “The scale of investment required is small from a global perspective, though it will require additional financing for nations that are least likely to have access to sources of finances.”

Ingenious forecasting models generated from the study show that an investment of 750 to 1000 billion dollars over the next 20 years – or 3 to 4% of current energy investments – would facilitate universal energy access. Furthermore, through these investments, a policy of fuel subsidies, new stoves, and improved access to electricity would all serve to dramatically reduce the casualties of indoor air pollution.

By enacting a policy of universal energy access now, future generations of poverty stricken families can enjoy the safety of cooking without the carcinogenic side effects of indoor air pollution. Dr. Pachauri optimistically notes that achieving this goal will result in signicant health benefits.

Brian Turner
Source: Science Daily
Photo: Building A Smarter Planet