Fuel and Energy Poverty in the Developing and Developed World

Energy consumption is the central focus of this weblog. I have been following statistics and forecasts of energy consumption because I think it hasn’t received enough attention and because I think that consumption is going to increase far more than estimated.

“Between 1990 and 2008, close to 2 billion people worldwide gained access to electricity. But the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that more than 1.3 billion people still lack access to electricity, while the United Nations estimates that another 1 billion have unreliable access.” So wrote the WorldWatch Institute in January of 2012.

Providing access to electricity to those 2 billion people helped caused global energy consumption to soar, from 283 quads in 1980 to 504.7 quads in 2008. Many of those who have access to some electricity want to use more but cannot afford it at the moment. That’s called energy poverty.

Worldwatch continues: “At least 2.7 billion people, and possibly more than 3 billion, lack access to modern fuels for cooking and heating. They rely instead on traditional biomass sources, such as firewood, charcoal, manure, and crop residues, that can emit harmful indoor air pollutants when burned. These pollutants cause nearly 2 million premature deaths worldwide each year, an estimated 44 percent of them in children. Among adult deaths, 60 percent are women. ”

This has to be a focus for what we’re doing. Despite fears of global warming related to energy consumption, these people need help.

On another note, there are plenty of people in the developed world who also are hit by rising energy costs. They typically don’t curtail energy consumption too much, but do without other important items to keep the heat on and the lights burning.

This is more commonly known as fuel poverty, and it afflicts more than 600,000 in Germany and more than 4 million homes in the UK. Estimates for the U.S. are close to 16 million people in fuel poverty, defined as spending more than 10% of one’s income on fuel. Rising electricity rates and higher costs for liquid fuels are the primary culprits.

Although it’s a matter of life or death for those in the developing countries, it’s hugely important in the developed world as well.

The UK statistics give a hint–“Some 7,800 people die during winter because they can’t afford to heat their homes properly, says fuel poverty expert Professor Christine Liddell of the University of Ulster. That works out at 65 deaths a day.”

Energy and fuel poverty statistics for the world are not in any place that I have been able to find. If any of you can point me to statistics, I’d love to look at this in greater detail.

It needs it.

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