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HomeIllinois NewsEnergy Poverty Is Much Worse for the Poor Than Climate Change

Energy Poverty Is Much Worse for the Poor Than Climate Change



EnergyEnergy abundance—not green energy—will raise people out of poverty. The United Nations thinks solar panels, solar lanterns, and other “clean energy” technologies can bring energy wealth to the poorest parts of the world. The Breakthrough Institute argues that the UN’s approach amounts to telling the poor to remain poor in order to prevent global temperatures from rising. As Ronald Bailey writes, a new report from Breakthrough lays out a different vision: “Eco-modernists argue that through technological progress humanity will increasingly withdraw from nature, enabling a vast ecological restoration over the course of this century. The Breakthrough report rejects any approach based around small-scale energy projects aimed chiefly at supplying tiny amounts of electricity to millions of subsistence farmers. ‘There is no nation on earth with universal electricity access that remains primarily agrarian,’ the authors note. ‘Modern household energy consumption has historically been achieved as a side effect of electrification for non-household purposes such as factories, electrified transportation, public lighting, and commercial-scale agriculture.’ Rural electrification has always come last, after urbanization and economic development have taken off. For example, in the U.S. nearly 90 percent of city dwellers had electricity by the 1930s but only 10 percent of rural Americans did. Given this universal growth dynamic, the Breakthrough writers call for prioritizing energy development for productive, large-scale economic enterprises. Copious and reliable energy will accelerate the creation and spread of higher-productivity factories and businesses, which then will generate the opportunities for a better life; that, in turn, will draw poor subsistence farmers into cities.”



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