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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7537
JPY
USD
103.79
GBP
USD
0.6032
CAD
USD
1.0957
INR
USD
60.522

Rates may not be current.