News / Economy

Climate Change Conference Focuses on Energy for Poor Nations

Brian Dames, Chief Executive of South Africa's public utility ESKOM, speaks at a forum on sustainable development.
Brian Dames, Chief Executive of South Africa's public utility ESKOM, speaks at a forum on sustainable development.
Greg Flakus

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico wraps up its final day, discussions continue over some crucial issues such as the need to simultaneously reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and provide the world with more energy.  While no one expects major progress towards a comprehensive binding treaty, Mexican officials say they do see progress in some areas and that the conference is providing an opportunity for many governments and environmental organizations to share ideas and forge agreements of their own.

While delegates from over 190 nations meet under tight security at a nearby hotel, representatives of non-governmental organizations, universities, regional groups and other entities come together at a large conference hall to move ahead with their own agendas.  One focal point discussed here over the past two weeks involves how industrialized nations can help developing countries not only adapt to climate change, but gain access to more energy in order to grow their economies.

Scientists from richer nations say increased emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels like coal and petroleum products are causing the earth to warm.  But how can poor nations reduce emissions when the only way out of poverty is to increase energy use?

Speaking in a forum on sustainable development, Brian Dames, Chief Executive of South Africa's public utility ESKOM, noted that his continent lags far behind in access to electrical power.

"If you look at the continent at night from a satellite it is truly the dark continent and therein lies the challenge that we have," said Dames.

Dames notes that energy access in sub-Saharan Africa is about 25 percent versus 90 percent in east Asia, yet Africans pay nearly double the price for energy. He and other development experts say electrical energy is the key to fighting poverty in poor nations.

The United Nations has addressed this need through its Global Campaign for Universal Energy Access, which has an emphasis on the use of clean energy. Technologies already available may help poor regions operate local electrical grids and utilize waste products in their own vicinity for fuel.

Helge Marie Norheim, a vice president of Norway's state-owned oil company Statoil, says her company is working on projects in Africa to use biofuels to supplement energy from other sources.

"Energy companies like Statoil have the technology, competence and financial capability to continue to provide for energy security, while, at the same time, addressing the dual challenge of climate change," said Norheim.

Kandeh Yumkella, Director General of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization and a citizen of Sierra Leone, says expanding electrical power resources in Africa would add minimal amounts of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. But, he says, his organization favors using clean energy.

"The knowledge for solar, wind, hydro, biofuel mass - these are known.  So we can even use new renewable technologies that are existing today and their contributions to emissions will be negligible," said Yumkella.

Much of the talk at this conference has been about transferring wealth from richer nations to poorer ones to help them both mitigate their emissions and adapt to the changes that global warming will produce. To have better energy systems, Yumkella says developing nations need not only money, but technical assistance.

"There is a lot of need for external assistance from the United States, from Europe, and others, for support," added Yumkella.  "Also, there are lots of possibilities for South-South cooperation. China and India, they have developed indigenous technologies to use biomass, to use animal waste, to be able to provide basic energy services for the poor."

The climate conference is winding down, but many of the projects discussed here are only getting started. Participants in the many forums that have taken place here say they are committed to doing their part to save the planet and their own communities, regardless of what does or does not happen on a larger scale.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'i
X
Scott Stearns
September 23, 2014 10:52 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video US, Gulf Allies Strike Islamic State Militants in Syria

United States forces have carried out strikes against Islamic State or ISIL militant positions in Syria - the first time Western forces have taken action on Syrian soil. Five U.S. allies from the Gulf joined the military action. Local reports suggest dozens of militants were killed. The U.S. also carried out unilateral missile strikes against a Syria-based terror group which Washington says poses an imminent threat to the West. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Used to Kill Cancer Tumor

There is a new way of killing certain cancer tumors that allows the patient to go home on the same day. Surgeons at the Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California became the first doctors to use this procedure on a patient with the help of high intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, and new robotic technology. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in Five Countries

Hollywood stars Alicia Keys, Jennifer Garner and 30 others have voiced their support for a U.S.-backed initiative called "Let Girls Learn." The $231 million program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is aimed at ensuring public and quality education for girls worldwide. As VOA's Mariama Diallo reports, this new program will focus on five countries in Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Video

Video UN: Relocation of Bedouins in Israel Weakens Two-state Solution

Rural Bedouins living in disputed lands east of Jerusalem could soon find themselves forcibly relocated. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Jerusalem that while Israel defends the move as in the Bedouins’ best interests, the United Nations says the plan threatens the survival of the two-state solution with Palestinians.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Prolonged Drought Plagues SW Oklahoma Farmers

Parts of western Texas and southwestern Oklahoma have been in drought conditions for several years running and the deficit in rainfall has taken a heavy toll on cotton and grain production. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin says the state has suffered $2 billion in agricultural losses since 2011. There has been rain in recent weeks, but, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Altus, Oklahoma, for most farmers it has been too late.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7768
JPY
USD
108.84
GBP
USD
0.6124
CAD
USD
1.0999
INR
USD
61.042

Rates may not be current.