Energy poverty news for Rio+20: June 12

Bravo Monsieur Hollande! Not only will the new French president buck the no-show trend of G8 leaders but he also announced yesterday that energy for all is one of three French priorities for Rio+20.


There’s a rather less welcome development in the debate about the effectiveness of clean cookstove programmes that has been an irritant for the sector over the last year or so. With most unfortunate timing, the Low demand for nontraditional cookstove technologies research project led by the Yale economist, Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, reached the point of its formal online publication yesterday.

The credentials of the project are impeccable – conducted by Yale and Stanford researchers and published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences. The abstract refers to findings that “women in rural Bangladesh do not perceive indoor air pollution as a significant health hazard (and) prioritize other basic developmental needs over nontraditional cookstoves.”

The forensic work of Professor Mobarak in questioning low usage of improved cookstoves is already familiar to practitioners. Indeed, it will come as no surprise to the wider network of development fieldworkers – short term projects which intervene in centuries of household custom can be a hostage to fortune.


If you’re sensitive to cooking smoke issues, then this section comes attached with a severe health warning. You’ll need a strong stomach for this:

We call for eliminating energy poverty by ensuring that at least half of the new generation is fueled by coal

Yes, it’s Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal corporation, offering its verdict on (sustainable) energy for all in the smoke-filled columns of the China Daily.

There’s no point in running away from this scenario, certainly as long as developed countries include new coal-fired generation in their plans. And of course the 2011 International Energy Agency study, Energy For All has argued along similar lines for grid extensions, as does the World Bank.


this article was first published by OneWorld UK