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UNDP Report Calls for US$113 Billion Investment to Relieve Asia-Pacific Energy Poverty by 2030

UNDP23 April 2013: The Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (APRC) of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has released a report on “Energy and Poverty in the Context of Climate Change” as part of a series of Asia-Pacific Human Development Report technical background papers, and recommends massive investments in energy to secure universal access to electricity and modern fuels.

The authors report that the Asia-Pacific region has the world's highest level of energy deprivation, and is also fast becoming the world's largest emitter of CO2. They note the majority of people in the world without access to electricity or modern fuels live in the Asia-Pacific region, with the poor relying on solid fuels such as wood, coal, cattle dung and agro-waste for their energy needs.

They recommend securing universal household access to energy, calculating that the net increase to carbon emissions would be negligible, and would not conflict with countries' adoption of a low-carbon pathway in their industrial sectors. The authors envisage household energy needs being met from both centralized and decentralized systems that include mini-grid and off-grid electricity systems, and cooking energy from LPG, biogas, and advanced biomass cookstoves. They calculate that such a transition would cost around US$113 billion over 20 years, or around US$55 per capita for electricity access, and US$26 per capita for access to modern fuels for cooking and heating.

The authors anticipate large gains in energy efficiency that will reduce carbon emissions from the industrial sector, based on policy levers such as the introduction of cap-and-trade systems and the complete phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies. They foresee the largest potential gains in India and China, especially in the iron, steel and cement industries. [Publication: Energy and Poverty in the Context of Climate Change] [Other APRC background papers on climate change]