Energetica Supplies Energy Systems to Communities in Bolivia
According to a survey conducted by Energetica, a nonprofit organization located in Cochabamba, many citizens in Bolivia believe that the more energy they have, the better. Energetica is working to fight this misconception. Their mission is to provide equal energy to Bolivians and seek proactive ways to encourage a greater and more rational use of energy. To promote this, Energetica diversifies energy supply sources, provides efficient development for energy sources and utilizes renewable energy to contribute to environmental conservation.

Their vision is to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged Bolivians, increase productivity and preserve the environment. Some of their methods consist of training individuals for management and human resources roles, finding solutions through technology and innovation, and increasing access to energy for impoverished citizens.

Energetica was started on February 18, 1993 by now-Executive Director Miguel Fuentes Fernandez. The team is made up of a set of advisers, technicians and project managers who come together to create and implement projects throughout Bolivia.

They divide their work methods into four different programs. The first program focuses on developing access to energy to extend the coverage of energy services in rural and urban areas so that it can be used domestically and for community and productivity uses. They do so by looking at three different things: how energy is used in a household, how it is used in the community and how it can be utilized to create more energy.

They use municipal projects to gauge the average household’s energy consumption and then apply this information to help families obtain the access to the energy that they need to improve the quality of lighting, communication and cooking.

Project managers create projects to strengthen social infrastructure in order to improve health and education in rural areas. Lastly, to increase energy, Energetica promotes dedicating different energy sources—such as natural gases, biomass and solar energy—to productivity, harnessing it to optimize internal management mechanisms.

The second program focuses on sharing knowledge. To complete this project, they educate the residents of Bolivia through seminars, workshops and training sessions to teach them how to efficiently use and conserve energy. This ties into the third program, which involves meeting with citizens to become better informed about their demands. With this knowledge, they are able to help provide more energy and education where it is needed.

The fourth and final program involves strengthening institutions and companies. This program focuses on meeting with companies to train employers on energy-saving tactics, teaching them about the importance of sharing energy and evaluating their energy use. This helps keep companies and big organizations from overusing energy.

Right now, Energetica has projects happening all over Bolivia. In the last 15 years, they have successfully installed over 31,000 renewable energy components throughout the country. In addition, they have trained 70,000 citizens of Bolivia in energy conservation and knowledge sharing. The project will be continued until Bolivia is supplied with optimal energy.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Energetica, Matador Network, Market Watch
Photo: Energetica

Earlier this month, the Canadian government passed the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act (ESTMA), an energy transparency law that aims to shed more light on the financial activity of energy companies in foreign countries. The law applies to nearly 2,000 energy companies that are registered in Canada or listed on Toronto’s stock exchange and will require them to publish detailed records of payments made to foreign governments.

The ESTMA came just before the G7 Summit on June 7, and is the product of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s commitment at the 2013 G8 Summit to establish stricter standards for the reporting of financial activity by Canadian extractive companies.

The stated purpose of the law is “to foster better transparency to ensure that the resource extractive industries support proper development in the countries where they operate, while at the same time making it harder to conceal illicit payments.” According to Canadian Securities Law, the Act will require affected companies to report any payments made in relation to the commercial development of oil, gas or minerals that exceed either the amount prescribed by regulation or $100,000 on a number of types of payments, including royalties, production entitlements, dividends and infrastructure improvement funding.

While a similar U.S. transparency law has existed since a 2010 amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act, no rules have been officially implemented for extractive industry activity abroad. The Securities and Exchange Commission threw out regulations written in 2013 after a lawsuit from the American Petroleum Institute – the oil industry’s principal U.S. lobbying organization – claimed the regulations were too punitive for its member companies. In the fall of 2014, Oxfam International filed its own lawsuit against the SEC for failure to implement previously mandated regulations and expects a decision “any day now” on whether or not a federal court will set a timeline for the SEC.

As of now, the majority of the world’s largest oil companies, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron, are nor required to report payments made to foreign governments.

For civilians in oil-rich countries, the detriments for allowing foreign energy corporations to extract their resources often outweigh the benefits they realize for hosting them.

“In many countries that are rich in oil, gas and other non-renewable natural resources, the communities from whose territory the resources are extracted bear the brunt of environmental and human rights impacts associated with extractive activity but see few tangible benefits,” said EarthRights International (ERI) in a statement in 2014. “We, along with our partners in Burma and elsewhere, believe that knowing what governments receive from extractive companies is an important step for communities to hold governments responsible for the use of natural resource revenues and to advocate for a fair share of the benefits.”

Since 2009 ERI has worked with Oxfam and other members of the Publish What You Pay Us (PWYP) coalition to fight for revenue transparency in the extractive industry. The stated mission of the PWYP is to “[help] citizens of resource-rich developing countries hold their governments accountable for the management of revenues from the oil, gas and mining industries.”

“Natural resource revenues are an important source of income for governments of over 50 developing countries,” states the PWYP coalition. “When properly managed these revenues should serve as a basis for poverty reduction, economic growth and development rather than exacerbating corruption, conflict and social divisiveness.”

Proponents of stricter oversight of extractive industries note that a lack of financial transparency raises doubts as to how much civilians in host countries benefit from the extraction of their resources by foreign energy companies. Detailed records published by energy companies will reveal more precisely who is benefiting from extractive industry spending and whether – and to what degree – recipient governments use that spending to benefit their own people.

– Zach VeShancey

Sources: Canadian Securities Law, Devex, Earthrights, Publish What you Pay
Photo: The Star

South Africa is now home to one of the largest wind farms in all of Africa. The farm produces 138 megawatts of electricity and is located between the cities of Jeffrey’s Bay and Humansdorp in the Eastern Cape province.

The private power generation company in Africa, Globeleq, led the creation of the farm. It consists of 60 turbines that are 80 meters tall, and cover a span of 3,700 hectares. The turbines will provide enough clean, renewable energy to power 100,000 South African homes each year.

South Africa’s current means of production of energy is producing carbon dioxide. With the implementation of this wind farm, the country can avoid producing 420,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Renewable energy sources are a fairly new phenomenon in Africa, but they are proving to be extremely powerful and efficient. Mikael Karlsson, Globeleq’s CEO, said, “[The Jeffrey’s Bay Wind Farm] demonstrates significant support for independent private power producers in the region and indicates the sustainability of the renewable energy sector.”

He continued to discuss the return to the community that this project will provide: “A percentage of the project’s operational revenues will be reinvested into the local community through socio-economic and enterprise development programmes, creating the skills needed to support the growth of the renewable energy industry in South Africa.”

The Jeffrey’s Bay Wind Farm is currently the second biggest on the continent. It is bigger than the 120-megawatt Ashegoda farm in Ethiopia, but the Tarfaya farm in southwestern Morocco will generate up to 300 megawatts of electricity annually.

The wind farm is a part of South Africa’s latest attempt at using renewable energy. The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers (RE-IPP) program, which began in 2011, is focusing on solar and wind energy projects. Over the past several months, solar power projects have been implemented across the country, entering South Africa into the world’s top 10 utility solar power markets. The same accolades can be expected with the continued growth of wind energy projects.

– Hannah Cleveland
Sources: AllAfrica, Energy Business Review, Clean Technica
Photo: Clean Technica

National Climate Assessment
Recently, a Green Iowa Americorps member informed me that farmers in the state of Iowa have lost four days of field time since 1896. Due to an increase of approximately 8% in rainfall across the state, farmers now face very rainy springs and drier autumns, both of which threaten the hydrologic balance necessary for crop production.

For Iowa farmers, these changes affect their livelihood from year to year. More rain during the planting season could equate to a season without a harvest, or at least lower yields. These changes also incur anxiety for the state’s residents, many of whom were affected by the large-scale flooding in 2008 and who now look to spring with apprehension.

The Third National Climate Assessment released by the White House on May 5 takes note of the climate changes taking effect across the country, like the ones observed in Iowa, and chastises the definitive changes humans have brought to the world.

The report informs, in detail, how climate change will adversely affect the American water supply, agriculture, human health and ecosystems, among other things.

Despite the report’s thorough and informative nature, as well as its website’s appealing layout, it fails to stress the global impact of American culture on the rest of the world. While the report was created to address the problems of climate within the U.S., it only just addresses the U.S.’s prominence in creating it around the world, thereby creating a blind spot in any discussion of climate and limiting the report’s effectiveness.

Warmer air and higher ocean temperatures, melting ice and snow and an increased presence of diseases spread by mosquitoes and other vectors could disrupt food production and foster global poverty and hunger.

The U.S. itself plays a major role in climate change, a reality this report skims over lightly. While global concerns are mentioned, such as how “global temperatures could cause associated increases in premature deaths related to worsened ozone and particle pollution,” the U.S. isn’t named as one of the prime instigator’s of this trend. Instead, the U.S. is treated as one of the victims.

The Environmental Protection Agency reported in 2008 that the leading CO2 emitters were China, the U.S., the European Union, India, the Russian Federation, Japan and Canada. For third world countries attempting to catch up with the U.S. and other world powers, energy efficient manufacturing means are out of reach, something the U.S. should confront and have a greater hand in supporting.

The U.S. Energy Information Agency reports that the U.S. consumes 11.65 barrels of petroleum oil per person every single day, and consumes 205,824 Kilowatt-hours of energy per person. In comparison, Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, only consumes one thousandth of a barrel per person and  21.6 Kilowatt-hours of energy per person.

Instead of addressing climate change in order to look after the U.S.’ own domestic interests, the U.S. government and its citizens need to be more responsible for how their actions impact the rest of the world.

— Emily Bajet

Sources: Houston Chronicle, U.S. Global Change, The White House, EPA, The Guardian, Green Alliance, The Guardian(2), EIA
Photo: Flickr

Climate Change
Recently, the Center for American Progress released a report that examined the link between poverty and climate change. The “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability” report was authored by some of the world’s most outstanding scientists and researchers, who argued that the international community must take immediate action against climate change.

According to a paper published by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in April, nations that do not implement clear steps to reduce the inevitable impacts of climate change will likely suffer “crippling costs to do so in the future.” The IPCC also indicated that making the effort to curb climate change would be financially achievable and help contribute to poverty reduction.

Climate change affects public health, safety and quality of life. Those living in poor and developing countries are especially vulnerable to climate change, which the Center cites as a direct cause of “extreme weather events that flatten communities and critical infrastructure, cause food insecurity, give rise to pollution-related illnesses, and disrupt livelihoods.”

Industrialized countries contribute the most to climate change, but developing nations are the ones ultimately unprotected from the deadly effects of extreme weather conditions and natural catastrophes. Climate change is notably detrimental to those whose livelihoods depend on climate-sensitive activities such as farming and agriculture. Additionally, individuals living in poor areas lack the means to adapt quickly to erratic climate patterns.

Eliminating global poverty and reducing climate change have been two enduring and persistent challenges. Experts believe that climate change can no longer be stopped, but attempts should still be made to slow its current rate. Luckily, the international community has plans to develop a comprehensive global development agenda after the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015.

The new agenda would provide the necessary direction and guidelines for governments, local institutions and the private sector to downsize poverty and maintain global development projects. Environmental issues were never fully integrated into the Millennium Development Goals, and the upcoming agenda would be a valuable opportunity to do so.

The Center has suggested a number of ideas that should be added to the 2015 agenda (which has an expected expiration date of 2030): eliminating the practice of overfishing, increasing water efficiency in agriculture by 25%, ensuring universal access to modern energy services, preventing the loss of natural forests, reduce global carbon pollution and emissions from energy production, doubling the amount of renewable energy in the global mix and more.

By setting target goals like conserving natural forests and reducing the loss of coastal wetlands by 50%, international leaders could help ensure economic growth and reduce global poverty.

The impending agenda would be a significant step towards making climate change a recognized and urgent issue. And ultimately, those living in extreme poverty would benefit the most from a strong international emphasis on confronting climate change.

– Kristy Liao

Sources: American Progress 1, American Progress 2, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Photo: The Telegraph