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An energy shop uses a photovoltaic system for chargin mobile phones in village close to Gorongosa, Mozambique. Photo: Energy for All 2030/Flickr
Humanity is facing a triple global energy challenge. Stockholm Environment Institute and other leading research institutes have joined forces to produce a global assessment on sustainable energy for all.
In a new position paper submitted to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development this week (Rio+20), researchers from SEI and other leading research institutes state that “development will not be possible without an energy transition that responds to the demands of development and poverty alleviation as well as the constraints imposed by climate change.”
”The debate about securing energy for all must go beyond the current debate about basic access,” says Dr. Måns Nilsson, Deputy Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute. “It is time to consider what kind of energy services need to be available to enable all countries in the world to reach an economic development equivalent to at least today’s middle income segment by the year 2050."
To achieve this, growth rates for the world’s poor nations need to average around 7-8 percent, with emerging economies at 4-5 percent. The question is what levels and types of energy services that are compatible with such economic development paths – and how they can be supplied.
The scientific basis for addressing this question will be a global assessment on sustainable energy for all, supported by the Governments of Sweden and Brazil. The assessment builds on and integrates existing efforts among partners such as the Global Energy Assessment (IIASA, SEI and PBL), Planetary Boundaries (SEI and PBL), Low carbon development (ACPC), Energy access and Clean energy (TERI), Electricity Governance (WRI), Brazilian Biofuels Programs from the water, energy and land nexus perspective (COPPE), Guidelines for a Green Economy in Brazil (FBDS) and Integrated Sustainability Scenarios (PBL).
New sustainable energy based development strategies needed
The authors of the position paper see humanity facing a triple global energy challenge: affordable energy services, rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, and staying within critical systems boundaries such as biodiversity, land use and freshwater use. How to resolve this triple challenge will require a dramatic transition over a period of 30-40 years.
In respons to this triple challenge, the global assessment will push nations to recognize three key elements:
- The fundamental importance of increasing energy demand in poor and emerging economies;
- That energy is a driver in the “Anthropocene” but also that a global energy transition within planetary boundaries is within reach;
- The urgent need to accelerate the energy transition with adequate governance responses
”With energy security for development in focus, the world has a shared incentive and interest to find solutions,” continues Dr. Nilsson at SEI. ”It can be a meaningful way to recast and reframe the climate change negotiations, which are currently stuck in the mud.”
Learn more about the SEI's work ahead of Rio+20»