Can local energy systems merge climate and poverty goals?

5c06d50fdd196d0d8ca0e80bcddaaeb0The “tremendous expansion” of businesses selling small solar systems in rural areas is one of the success stories of efforts to roll out renewable energy, according to environmental lawyer Alan Miller. Miller has been involved in climate policy since the 1970s when concerns about the ozone layer would eventually lead to the Montreal Protocol and then the UNFCCC climate convention in 1992. He says countries in the global South need to develop their energy systems sustainably to avoid getting locked into high-emission fuel sources – and undermining global climate goals.

“More and more of what’s projected as growth economically ‒ but also in greenhouse gas emissions ‒ is in developing countries, and particularly in China and India,” he says.

In India, Harish Hande runs a social enterprise, SELCO, which offers a door to door service and financing for families eager to move from candles and kerosene to small solar systems. Hande recognised as a pioneer in the field, does business with marginalised people who often get overlooked by the private sector and centralised government services.

The challenge of rolling out clean energy to meet climate goals is on the agenda at the Bellagio Center in Italy, where academics, scientists and artists from around the world meet this month to discuss science for development.

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