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.
At the 10th anniversary of the Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) Partnership in London yesterday, the oil company Rosneft received an award for its Associated Gas Recovery Project on the Komsomolskoye oil field, located on the tundra in the heart of Russia over 3,000 kilometers east of Moscow. It’s gratifying to see that Rosneft is getting recognition for its hard work because this project is important not only in reducing flaring and greenhouse gas emissions, but also for the positive impact it is having on the local environment surrounding oil fields and for making better use of precious resources.
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.)
It is well understood that climate change poses specific dangers for small island developing states. Less commented on is another threat: the vulnerability of these states to the repercussions of energy insecurity.
Pacific islands are some of the most vulnerable. Spread out over a huge expanse of ocean, pooling power among countries is not the option that it is for other regions. Lacking fossil fuel resources, many of these states are forced to import oil products over long distances. When prices spike, these countries are among the hardest hit.
Global oil prices have now been volatile for ten years, compared with historical trends, with sharp volatility characterizing the markets since late 2007. During this period, the World Bank has been engaged with developing countries to help them manage and mitigate this volatility so that it does not hamper the development or extension of energy services to poor communities.
Even if most news media dismissed last month’s Rio+20 summit as a failure, the conference did produce an agreement that may well wind up being its most positive legacy.
It was approval to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. Another initiative that was launched at Rio+20 – the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative – is sometimes cited as an illustration of what SDGs would look like for the energy sector.
More broadly, these SDGs transfer the methodology of the poverty-focused Millennium Development Goals, largely seen as a successful work-in-progress, to address the sustainability challenge.
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’.