Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014 – 2024)

SEFA_UN_decade_580In June, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared the decade 2014‑2024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL).

The initiative, seeks to make universal access to renewable energy a global priority, at a time when 1.3 billion people lack electricity and 2.6 billion in developing countries use biomass in cooking and heating and when a shift to sustainable energy use is imperative to protect the Earth’s climate.

SE4ALL’s three primary objectives are to end extreme poverty; to produce a third of the world’s energy from renewables by 2030; and to reduce carbon emissions through such energy sources.

Kandeh Yumkella, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and CEO of SE4ALL, announced that the initial two years of the Decade would be focused on a campaign for energy access for women and children’s health.  He said, “Energy issues are global issues. But everywhere around the world, including in Africa, energy is a woman’s issue. It can mean the difference between safety and fear, freedom and servitude, and even life and death. The world must come together to end energy poverty and ensure that the poor can manage their lives and thrive economically.”

According to Sharon Wallenberg of Pax Christi USA  “Health depends on energy. Lack of energy is the number one killer of women and children globally. Health care facilities with no access to electricity cannot refrigerate life saving vaccines, or perform blood transfusions. Hospitals may have doctors, instruments, equipment, and machines, but surgery cannot be performed at night without lights. Two-hundred and ninety million women die annually from childbirth.  Maternal deaths in developing nations are usually due to energy poverty. Babies do not wait until sunrise to be born. Death can result when women are turned away from hospitals at night. Babies born by kerosene lantern are often burned upon delivery. No C-sections are performed at night. There are four million deaths annually caused by indoor air pollution from cooking and heating with wood and charcoal, mostly women and children. Half of all pneumonia deaths in children result from indoor air pollution. Solar energy saves lives. Clean cook stoves save lives. The target is for 100 million households to be provided with clean cook stoves during this decade.”

In summary sustainable energy provides new opportunities for growth. It enables businesses to grow, generates jobs, and creates new markets. Children can study after dark. Clinics can store life-saving vaccines. Countries can grow more resilient, with competitive economies. With sustainable energy, countries can build the clean energy economies of the future. Transforming the world’s energy systems will also lead to new multi-trillion-dollar investment opportunities.

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