The real issue at COP27 is energy equity
#GS-03 Environment and Ecology
The corelation between development and access to energy:
- In 2021, 733 million people had no access to electricity and almost 2.6 billion people lacked access to clean fuels and technologies.
- The average per capita energy use of the richest 20 countries is 85 times higher than that of the 20 poorest countries.
- The average annual per capita electricity consumption of sub-Saharan Africa is 487 kilowatt-hours (kWh). This can be viewed alongside an infant mortality rate of 73 per 1,000 live births; maternal mortality ratio of 534 per 1,00,000 live births, and per capita GDP of $1,645.
- On the other hand, the OECD group of countries have a per capita electricity consumption of 7,750 kWh, corresponding to an infant mortality rate of seven, maternal mortality ratio of 18, and per capita GDP of $42,098.
- The global inequity came under the spotlight during the pandemic.
- Several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are facing severe agricultural and industrial slowdowns in the post-pandemic period.
- Currently due to increasing fuel and energy prices are leading to a severe rise in the cost of living and nearly 70 million additional people are estimated to fall below the poverty line of $3.20 per person per day.
- Almost 90 million people in Asia and Africa, who gained access to electricity recently, cannot afford to pay their energy bills.
- The lack of affordable energy infrastructure has compounded the difficulties and has multi-dimensional impacts across developmental indicators.
Fossil Fuel in the West:
- In the United States, 81% of primary energy is from fossil fuels.
- In Europe, fossil fuels constitute 76% of the energy consumption (coal, oil, and natural gas contribute 11%, 31%, and 34% respectively).
- Natural gas was responsible for 7.5 billion tonnes of CO2 (i.e., 23% of the total CO2 by the major fossil fuels), in 2020.
- However, in July 2022, the European Union (EU) voted to classify the use of natural gas for some uses as “green and sustainable”.
- Additionally, in 2022, even coal consumption in the U.S. and the EU is estimated to increase by 3% and 7%, respectively.
What needs to be done:
- At COP27, the global South must put the question of its energy poverty and the severe global inequalities in energy access squarely at the centre of all discussions.
- We need to achieve zero hunger, zero malnutrition, zero poverty, and universal well-being even as we collectively contribute to ensuring effective climate action.
- As the strapline for COP27 (“Together for Implementation”) suggests, we must work together to ensure that these developmental goals are not side-lined.
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