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Worlds Poor Can Have Energy Without More Global Warming

There are 1.6 million deaths every year due to fuel pollution, of which half are children under five.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Mar 06, 2006
Meeting the desperate need for energy of the world's poorest countries does not have to contribute to global warming, experts said Monday at a conference sponsored by the World Bank. In a speech to the conference, Bank president Paul Wolfowitz bemoaned the fact that "1.6 billion people still have no access to the electricity grid".

The effects were far-reaching for a country's development, he said. In Nicaragua, 72 percent of children in households with electricity go to school, but that proportion drops to only half for children without access to power.

Where mains electricity or other clean energy is absent, the world's poor must also cope with the environmental and health impact of their reliance on heavily polluting fossil fuels.

"There are 1.6 million deaths every year due to fuel pollution, of which half are children under five," Wolfowitz said, saying a guaranteed power supply was therefore a "double dividend" for national development.

The lack of electricity is most acutely felt in sub-Saharan Africa. "Africa is in darkness and the darkness is getting thicker," Ugandan Energy Minister Syda Bbumba told the conference.

The United States, which has rejected the Kyoto agreement against global warming, argues that developing countries must be brought on board if international efforts to limit rising temperatures are to be meaningful.

But Robert Socolow, a professor at Princeton University's Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, said there was no contradiction between encouraging development and fighting global warming.

"This is certainly not the case that bringing energy for basic human needs to the very poor will increase carbon dioxide emissions," he said.

"Cooking fuel in rural areas is a catastrophe and could be replaced by propane or DME (Dimethyl ether) produced from biomass."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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New industrial technologies and novel financial ideas can help the fight against global warming by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to scientists and climate experts gathered here by the World Bank. Among new technologies, "carbon capture and sequestration" made more converts, and trading in carbon emissions rights on financial markets got an encouraging boost.

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