Vietnam has been one of the world’s fastest-growing economies over the past three decades. Along with that growth has come the expansion of energy-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, transport and power generation. Given the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, Vietnam’s total greenhouse gas emissions have more than doubled over the past decade, and are expected to triple by 2030. Although per capita CO2 emissions are still low, Vietnam has the 20th highest carbon intensity in the world.
Public Procurement. Energy Efficiency. These are not terms that one normally sees together. And honestly, neither is a subject likely to keep many people awake at night. But taken together, they can be a powerful force for energy security, greenhouse gas mitigation, and low carbon development.
The logic is simple. Governments on average account for 2-5 percent of national energy use, and this can rise to 20-30 percent in countries with high heating demand or low electrification rates. Between 12 and 20 percent of a country’s gross domestic product passes through public procurement systems. On both the energy and the procurement sides, government actions matter, influencing private sector purchasing and individual decision-making. Technical specifications used by governments also send signals to suppliers about the types of goods and services that will be in demand, which in turn can influence the products they produce.
“We could go a week without working. But now there isn't one day without work.”
At her hair salon an hour outside Nairobi, Kenya, Elizabeth Kyalo is talking about the impact of electricity. Specifically, the reliable supply of power that has allowed her to bring in more clients and build her business. “It has really helped us,” she says.
Energy is a primary driver of development. A steady supply of electricity allows students to study at night, health clinics to expand services, markets to stay open later, and small businesses such as Elizabeth Kyalo’s to grow, creating jobs.
Belo Horizonte está decidida a ser conhecida por seu compromisso com a sustentabilidade. Nos últimos anos, a iluminação pública foi trocada por um sistema mais eficiente, conduziu-se um inventário de emissão de gases causadores de efeito estufa e foram criados programas de compras públicas e construções sustentáveis. A empresa responsável pelo serviço de limpeza pública e tratamento de resíduos gera eletricidade a partir do biogás gerado no aterro sanitário. A cidade se orgulha de seus parques públicos e de sua área verde – com tamanho duas vezes maior que o recomendado pela Organização Mundial de Saúde (OMS).
The city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, is determined to be known for its commitment to sustainability. In recent years, the municipal government has switched public lighting to a more efficient system, conducted a greenhouse gas inventory, and created programs for sustainable public purchasing and building certification. The utility responsible for public cleaning services and waste treatment generates electricity using biogas from landfills. The city prides itself on its public parks and on having twice the green area inside the municipal boundaries than is recommended by WHO guidelines. The name of the city itself means “Beautiful Horizon”. Read this post in Portuguese (Leia este post em português.)
When I heard that Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank’s new president, was to meet staff in the energy department where I work on his first day at work July 2, it occurred to me that a good way to introduce him to our work in sustainable energy would be a quick demo of solar lanterns.
Among all the noise and commitments (or lack of) coming out of Rio, an announcement by the Government of Norway, in partnership with Ethiopia, Kenya and Liberia, is worth highlighting. As part of its contribution to the Energy+ Partnership it established in October 2011, Norway is to enter into three bilateral agreements to scale up access to sustainable energy in Ethiopia's rural areas, replace kerosene lamps with solar alternatives in Kenya, and support Liberia's development of a strategic energy and climate plan, with a major emphasis on ‘payment by results’.
A successful inclusive green growth strategy has to address the question of how we generate and consume energy. Indeed, the energy question is where poverty and climate pressures meet. One in five people worldwide lives without electricity. Two in five use wood, charcoal, dung or coal to cook and heat their homes, usually at risk to their health.
The Small Island Developing States, or SIDS, include 52 countries spanning the Caribbean, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as the South China and Mediterranean Seas. They range from low-income countries such as Haiti to high-income countries like Barbados and Singapore.
Despite their diversity, many of them have a challenge and irony in common. Being small, often remotely-located, and usually without domestic fossil fuel reserves, these countries rely on imported fossil fuels for their energy, and bear the brunt of high and volatile oil prices. The irony is that many of these same islands have abundant renewable energy resources, including wind, solar, hydro and geothermal. And many are at sea-level, vulnerable to sea-level rise provoked by climate change, and highly-sensitized to the urgency of making a transition to a greener economy—a transition that would reduce their exposure to petroleum price shocks and hikes.
On the margins of a big conference last month in Abu Dhabi with the modest (!) title of the World Future Energy Summit, an important meeting chaired by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon took place. This meeting agreed on a ‘framework document’ for launching the Sustainable Energy for All (SEFA) Initiative.
This SEFA Initiative has three goals: universal energy access, double the share of renewable energy in the global mix (from the current 15% to 30%), and double the improvement in energy efficiency…all of which are to be achieved by 2030.
It will be a big challenge. To give you an idea of just how big, consider these factors: