When the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, takes the floor of the UN general assembly this week, he will address two of the most pressing challenges of our time: poverty and climate change.
Electricity production accounts for 40% of global CO2 emissions. Too often, electricity decisions are made through closed processes with little scrutiny. WRI’s Electricity Governance Initiative is a civil society partnership working in India, Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa, and the Philippines – five countries with rapidly growing emissions from power generation – to improve public participation in the energy decisions that affect their lives.
The Electricity Governance Initiative has played an important role in the development of Thailand’s new Energy Industry Act, provisions of which include: promoting adequate energy services while maintaining fairness for both consumers and businesses; protecting consumer interests with regard to tariffs and service quality while increasing competition and preventing abuses of power; and promoting fairness and transparency in the provision of energy without unjust discrimination.
When President Barack Obama announced the country’s first national climate strategy, many people wondered what it would mean across the nation. Yet, the strategy may carry even more significant implications overseas.
The plan restricts U.S. government funding for most international coal projects. This policy could significantly affect energy producers and public and private investors around the globe.
Last month, Death Valley, California experienced the highest June temperature ever recorded (129 degrees F!). Fires have been blazing in the western United States, leading to catastrophic losses of life. We’re barely more than a month into summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and it has started off extreme.
The Asian Development Bank was established in 1966 to help its forty eight developing member countries reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of their citizens. In 2009, the Bank launched a new program of technical assistance to encourage the growth of small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) in India and Indonesia that provide environmental and social benefits.
Ella Delio works in WRI’s New Ventures project, which promotes business solutions that align the need for sound financial returns with environmental and social goals. She and her team were the Bank’s primary advisors in developing the new program. “SMEs,” Delio explains, “are the engines of equitable economic growth in emerging market nations. Accounting for an average of 34% of the GDP and employing in excess of 60% of the labor force, SMEs are great sources of innovation and often provide strong linkages to poor communities. They have the capacity to transform the economic development paradigm by delivering business models that are pro-poor and pro-environment.”
With a lending portfolio of $10.5 billion in 2008, the Asian Development Bank wields significant influence over the economic development policies of countries in the fast-growing Asia Pacific region.
In 2009, the Bank adopted a new energy policy geared toward supporting clean energy and low-carbon economic growth. Key commitments included: requiring carbon footprinting of proposed projects, technical support for countries to undertake low carbon strategies, and tools to help countries determine more efficient energy options. The Bank backed it up by committing to provide $2 billion annually to clean energy projects starting in 2013. This would represent a doubling of such investments based on 2008 lending.
“Taken together, these initiatives provide some of the strongest commitments yet by an international financial institution to clean energy investment,” explains Isabel Munilla, whose work at WRI focuses on aligning public and private investment with sustainable development and poverty reduction. “It sends a strong signal to other multilateral and regional development banks that they can play a catalytic role in helping developing countries deploy cleaner, safer, renewable and low-carbon energy technologies.” WRI and its partners in the region played a pivotal role in helping Bank officials develop the new policy.
Following record-breaking air pollution across Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, ministers from five Southeast Asian countries will meet in Kuala Lumpur this week for urgent talks on combating the haze.
New analysis of the patterns and causes of the fires in Sumatra that caused the haze highlights serious issues at the kickoff of this 15th meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution.
The new analysis from the World Resources Institute (WRI), which has been closely monitoring the fires since they began, highlights four key challenges that should help set the agenda for the Ministers of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand.
1. First, pulpwood and oil palm concessions have a more significant role in the fires that we earlier thought.
WRI’s analysis shows that that the number of fire alerts per hectare, in other words their density, is three to four times higher within pulpwood and oil palm concession boundaries than outside those boundaries.
A social entrepreneur invests the little working capital she has to bring solar electricity to a community that –like 1.2 billion people worldwide– lacks access to electricity. The community used to use dirty, expensive and choking kerosene for light to cook by and for children to learn by. The entrepreneur knows she can recoup her costs, because people are willing to pay for reliable, high-quality, clean energy – and it will be even less than what they used to pay for kerosene. Sounds like a good news story, right?
Three months later, the government utility extends the electrical grid to this same community, despite official plans showing it would take at least another four years. While this could be good news for the community, one unintended consequence is that this undermines the entrepreneur’s investment, wiping out their working capital, and deterring investors from supporting decentralized clean energy projects in other communities that lack access to electricity.
This post originally appeared as an Op-Ed in the Straits Times.
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As Malaysia declares a state of emergency with over 200 schools closing, and residents of Indonesia and Singapore continue to suffer from the choking haze, it's time to move beyond the blame game of claims and counter...
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