Energy poverty news: Rio+20: June 21

The founder of the influential Ashden Awards – which have done so much to bring public recognition to innovative projects on energy poverty – has blogged some timely thoughts on priorities for action plans. Sarah Butler-Sloss plumps for investment finance as key to progress:

It is critical to enabling sustainable energy pioneers get their ideas off the ground, and then for helping them bridge the valley of death between start-up and eligibility for commercial funding

Sarah is a member of the Practitioner Network established by Sustainable Energy For All to pool the practical experience of hundreds of organisations active in the field. Its report published earlier this week does have plenty to say about the problems of seed capital for off-grid ventures.

The report is full of useful feedback but its billing as the Practitioner Network’s “recommendations” has been misleading. There aren’t any!

One useful recommendation on finance comes in this interview with Arno Behrens, Center for European Policy Studies. He outlines the familiar problem of Europe’s multiple donor structure. “In order to combat energy poverty we need to streamline these efforts …to set up programmes that can actually work”

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One of the many multinational corporations on the High-level Group on Sustainable Energy For All is the global management consultancy, Accenture. It’s just published a customer briefing Sustainable Energy For All: The Business Opportunity.

The booklet lays out the opportunities for 19 separate industry sectors to improve the bottom line by pursuing the SE4ALL goals (mostly through efficiencies in use of energy). It concedes:

about half of the industries are not well positioned to contribute to the objective of improved energy access because they are primarily energy consumers and do not typically operate in the remote areas where access to energy is a main concern

”About half” is an understatement – there’s really nothing here at all about a role in energy access for any of these sectors.

This is my concern about the relevance of the likes of Accenture on a High-level panel tasked with eradicating energy poverty. Its expertise is undeniable but there’s too much clear water between advising peer industry groups and advising village communities.

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A member of the team at UN development agency, Practical Action – a pioneer in energy poverty solutions, has blogged on her experience of living for a week without modern energy. Deprived of her essential accessories, Gemma Hume bravely includes a photo of a bad hair day.

Definitely not on view with bad hair is Julia Roberts, Ambassador for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Her latest video setting out the benefits of supporting this cause is one of the best in this genre.

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this article was first published by OneWorld UK

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