Don’t disregard impacts of climate change on the poor when ending “energy poverty”

Written by Paul O’Brien, Vice President for Policy and Campaigns at Oxfam America on the Politics of Poverty blog of Oxfam America.

Energy poverty is a major development challenge for the world’s poor. Nearly 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live without consistent and predictable access to electricity. Electricity is the key to business growth and economic development—it is what turns the lights on at night for children doing their schoolwork. When it powers a water pump, it can change or save a woman’s life. It keeps drugs safely refrigerated and health clinics operating throughout the developing world.

No one really debates that energy poverty is a critical problem. But Oxfam also believes that solutions to energy poverty should foster long term opportunities and not exacerbate climate change. Global temperature rise—driven in large part through ongoing exploitation of fossil fuels—increasingly threatens the very communities who most need economic development.

We believe that sound public policy can and should guide us in the direction of a cleaner energy future—one that does not intensify the challenges faced by the most vulnerable among us.”

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