No modern energy means no light in the evening, no communications technology, no modern medicine and no industrial production. More than one billion people around the world still live without electricity today.
Energy supplies have improved in recent years, especially for town and city dwellers. But humanity’s demand for energy keeps rising. The quantities of power used in industrialised countries like the USA and Germany are immense. Fossil fuels like coal and oil produce greenhouse gases and are largely responsible for climate change. We cannot continue to use them to generate the same amount of power. The use of fuelwood is not sustainable either.
What must be done?
Energy must not only be accessible to all – it must be generated cleanly and sustainably. The percentage of renewable energies including wind power, solar power and hydropower in the global energy mix must rise considerably. The international community must work to ensure that all countries can benefit equally from research and new technologies. It is also essential that they invest in energy infrastructure, especially in the least developed countries. Industry around the world will have to rethink its strategy and significantly reduce energy consumption. Efforts to date are not enough to double energy efficiency by 2030, as planned.
Facts and figures
- 65 per cent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity. Globally the percentage of people with no access to electric power dropped from 21 to 15 per cent between 2000 and 2012.
- About three billion people have to use environmentally hazardous fuels to cook; wood, coal or agricultural waste. Every year 1.5 million people die as a result of the air pollution caused by these cooking methods.
- Coal, gas and oil are responsible for about 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Around the globe, renewables are being used increasingly. In 2015, 23.7 per cent of electric power was generated from renewable sources.