Growth Rate Tops Consumption
UPI U.N. Correspondent
United Nations (UPI) Apr 12, 2006
A senior U.N. official says the latest study on sustainable development shows global energy consumption is growing at a slower rate than the increase in world industrial and economic activity, particularly in the use of electricity.
However, the same official, Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Jose Antonio Ocampo, was quick to point out Tuesday "less than 20 percent of households in sub-Saharan Africa have access to modern electricity services and in South Asia, where that proportion is just over 40 percent."
He told reporters at U.N. World Headquarters in New York many developing countries that have large universal access to electricity in urban areas there is a backlog of poor people in rural areas that still have no access to electricity services."
Ocampo discussed the electricity situation as an example of what is needed as he introduced "Trends in Sustainable Development," a compilation of reports being issued in advance of the Commission on Sustainable Development's 14th session May 1-12. It is being devoted to interrelated challenges of energy for sustainable development, industrial development, atmosphere and air pollution and climate change.
Tuesday was the formal opening of preparations for the session.
"Energy consumption has generally grown more slowly than economic activity as energy efficiency has improved and economies have shifted to less energy-intensive industries and services," said the report. "Electricity use has outpaced gross domestic product growth, particularly in developing countries, as access to electricity and the use of appliances has grown with rising living standards.
Energy efficiency combined with increased use of natural gas -- and to a lesser extent nuclear and renewable energy -- have helped keep the growth in carbon dioxide emissions slightly lower than the growth in energy consumption." it said. "Globally, per capita carbon dioxide emissions remained roughly constant, as emissions grew at about the same rate as population."
The report said, "While per capita energy consumption is correlated with per capita income, Europe and Japan are considerably less energy intensive for their income levels than is the United States," it said. "Among developing countries, South Asia's lower per capita energy consumption than sub-Saharan Africa's, despite slightly higher per capita income, results in part from a lesser reliance on inefficient biomass fuels."
Biomass remains the main source of energy in sub-Saharan Africa.
the report also underscored the consequences of biomass cooking indoors.
"In developing countries, indoor air pollution from solid cooking fuels takes a much heavier toll in respiratory illness and early deaths than does urban air pollution," the report said.
The report noted major economies increasingly are relying on gas and electricity imports.
"China's oil imports have jumped significantly in recent years and, for the United States, oil imports have risen from 40 percent of needs in 1990 to also 60 percent in 2004," the report said. "Globally, natural gas imports have risen as a share of consumption from 13 percent in 1980 to 29 percent in 2003."
It also said the share of developing countries in world manufactured exports has risen rapidly, reaching just under one-third in 2000, with developed countries still dominating world manufacturing output.
"While East and South Asia experienced dynamic manufacturing sector growth, other developing regions have lagged behind, while manufacturing activity declined steeply in many countries with economies in transition," the report said.
All high-income countries have now phased out leaded gasoline, as have most countries in Latin America.
However, "In Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, a number of countries still sell leaded gasoline as well as leaded. Sub-Saharan African governments have agreed to eliminate lead from gasoline as of Jan. 1," said the report.
"In the United States, European Union and Japan, the transport sector has seen the fastest growth in greenhouse gas emissions, and emissions from international aviation have grown more than twice as fast as overall transport emissions," it said.
While Fuel consumption is an indicator of development, water is still a major problem.
"Since 1990, more than 1 billion people have gained access to improved water sources
and sanitation facilities," Ocampo told a preparatory meeting of the commission. "That represents genuine and impressive progress."
But, he said if the water and sanitation targets of the United Nations are to be met, over the next decade there will be a need for safe drinking water to reach an additional 1 .5 billion people and basic sanitation must become available to an additional 1 .9 billion people.
"Measured against these water and sanitation targets, as well as against the scale of the slum problem, the target of significantly improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020 is not nearly ambitious enough," he said. "While achieving the targets is feasible, it will require strong political resolve, translated into sizeable additional resource flows to poor countries."
He estimated the cost of meeting water, sanitation and slum targets "in the range of $30 to $40 billion a year. Even in the best of all possible worlds, capital will remain scarce in most poor countries, so its effective investment will be critical."
Source: United Press International
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