Energy Poverty News: Rio+20: June 15

Two days of the final Rio+20 PrepCom have come and gone but there’s still no sign that the sherpa negotiators have paid any attention to the critical Energy section of the draft outcome document.

It’s not as though there isn’t work to do – even the title needs sorting out (“Sustainable Energy” or just plain “Energy”). Today is the last round before the document is kicked upstairs to the politicians.

Maybe I’m oversensitive to this omission, having learned yesterday that the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio had been “almost forbidden to mention energy.”

This emerged during the Energy session of the Forum on Science Technology and Innovation, organised by the International Council for Science. The facilitator, Professor Nebojsa Nakicenovic, also mentioned that the subject of energy doesn’t feature at all in the voluminous Agenda 21.

The UN is doing its best to ensure that 2012 is different. It’s just published a detailed interview with Timothy Wirth, member of the High-Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All. This is part of a series on the “seven key areas….identified by the UN as needing urgent attention.”

Tim Wirth gets straight to the point: “access to energy is a necessary first step towards any kind of development goals.”

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Following my cautionary thoughts about ending fossil fuel subsidies, Sarah Hodgdon of the Sierra Club has written more positively on the issue, recommending that the savings should be redirected to the goal of energy for all. She also keeps up the pressure on the World Bank to redirect its soft loans from fossil fuels to off-grid projects.

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There’s a good infographic on Energy Access doing the rounds, produced by the Sustainable Energy For All team.

It addresses my pet grumble that the goal for universal access is being crowded out by its association with the goals for global energy efficiency and use of renewables. This poster sticks to the one topic and is the better for it.
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The Center for Strategic and International Studies has posted an excellent quality audio of the panel discussion that I reviewed yesterday. It addresses clean cookstoves in general and China’s engagement in particular.

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this article was first published by OneWorld UK

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