Memorandum submitted by the Intermediate
Technology Development Group (ITDG)
1. The inquiry of the International Development
Committee into Global Climate Change and Sustainable Development,
as set out in the detailed guidance notes, is to be comprehensive
and far reaching in its scope. This reflects the complexity and
multi-faceted nature of the impacts of climate change, and the
interdependence of the many factors affecting sustainable development
and poverty reduction. ITDG is in agreement with the IDC on the
importance to global sustainable development of climate change
caused by the actions of humanity. In contributing to the deliberations
of the Committee we would like to focus on the central issues
and comment from the perspective of our own experience.
2. The burning of fossil fuels for industrial,
commercial and domestic energy use, as well as transportation,
is the primary human source of 75 per cent of all green house
gas (GHG) emissions. Energy consumption has consequently become
a key focus of attention in debates about climate change. ITDG,
an international NGO, has been working on practical and policy
aspects of appropriate energy technologies for over 20 years,
and for these reasons we shall focus our comments on questions
concerning energy consumption and generation.
3. Climate change is primarily a consequence
of the activities of industrialised countries. Though more than
three quarters of the world's population are poor, they have contributed
less than one third of human carbon dioxide and methane gas emissions
and less than 20 per cent of industrial emissions. A significant
reduction globally in GHG emissions will therefore require changes
in energy consumption patterns in industrialised countries.
4. Despite being a minor contributor to
GHG emissions, the poor in developing countries are the most vulnerable
to climate change through less stable climate, greater incidence
of natural disasters, desertification, and risks to food supplies.
Sustainable development in the South requires concerted action
by the governments of industrialised countries to reduce the GHG
emissions that cause climate change, and it would be erroneous
to place the burden of fossil fuel reduction on developing countries.
5. Developing countries need adequate energy
provision to meet basic human needs, as well as for economic and
social development. Currently an estimated 1.5 to 2 billion people
globally lack adequate energy supplies. Though energy consumption
in the South needs to increase in order to reduce poverty, current
relatively low levels of energy consumption provide an opportunity
for a cleaner energy technology path to be adopted.
6. The general world-wide trend is towards
clean energy technologies. It has been estimated that the markets
for clean energy technologies (CET) will grow from less than US$7
billion today to US $82 billion by 2010 (www.cleanedge.com). Some
clean technologies, such as wind power, photo-voltaics, and fuel
cells, will continue to experience double-digit annual growth.
However, the growth of clean technologies will be uneven, with
some experiencing faster commercialisation than others.
7. With respect to renewable energy, it
is likely that the main increase will come from large-scale hydro
plants. It is predicted that the world will be using 50 per cent
more hydro power by 2020. Other renewables, despite a significant
growth rate, will account for only 3 per cent by 2020, up from
the current 2 per cent (World Energy Outlook, 2000, OECD).
8. The trend towards clean energy technologies
(CETs) will have a positive impact on reducing the emissions of
greenhouse gases (GHG) and ultimately on the environment. However,
it is not obvious that the benefits will be equally shared and
that poor people will be among the beneficiaries. This is in part
because a wide range of technologies can be considered as CETs,
and scale and complexity can vary greatly within the same type
of technology. Wind energy, for example, could be harnessed by
deploying large grid connected wind farms, with imported equipment
in the case of developing countries, or through small decentralised
wind systems based on local technical and manufacturing resources.
9. Generally, the consumption of fossil
fuels in developing countries needs to increase if the international
development targets are to be achieved. Given their low levels
of energy use at present, their contribution to GHG emissions
will therefore marginally increase. This increase can be limited
by using cleaner fuels, greater energy efficiency, greater use
of renewable energy sources, and fuel substitution in urban areas.
In some cases, for example China and India, there is a need to
cut fossil fuel consumption in countries through substitution
and energy efficiency.
10. Lessons from the North could help countries
in the South to design energy strategies which take into consideration
the environment, without compromising the poverty reduction goal.
This implies a development model inclusive of energy choices based
on a pattern of energy consumption that will optimise the use
of small-scale decentralised energy. For instance, high energy
efficiency lamps could be, in the long term, the best domestic
application for renewable energy despite their relative high initial
11. The sustainable supply of improved and
affordable energy services for meeting household energy needs
is the first priority of poor people. It is also of vital importance
in the reduction of poverty. The International Energy Agency has
estimated that more than two billion people in the developing
world use biomass for cooking. The total requirement of biomass
for cooking in developing countries is around 350 million tonnes
of oil equivalent (World Energy Outlook, 2000, OECD). About
half the world relies on biomass fuels for domestic energy, with
consequent excessive levels of indoor air pollution to which women
and children are exposed.
12. Indoor air pollution is one of the leading
causes of infant and child mortality in developing countries.
In Asia, such exposure accounts for between half and one million
excess deaths every year. In sub-Saharan Africa the estimate is
300,000 to 500,000 excess deaths (WHO Air Pollution guidelines:
Fact Sheet No. 187, revised September 2000). Indoor air pollution
is also a major contributory factor in chronic obstructive lung
disease in women who cook using biomass, and is also implicated
in active TB and blindness. Although the problem of indoor air
pollution is now recognised, there has been very little done in
working with communities to identify appropriate and affordable
interventions to remove smoke.
13. The International Energy Agency has
estimated at 60 per cent the potential population who may switch
to more sustainable use of biomass. The financial costs to provide
this portion of the population with more efficient cooking stoves
are estimated to be around US $12 billion. Estimates indicate
that, outside China, fewer than 100 million people get their meals
cooked on improved stoves. Providing energy-efficient cooking
stoves to an additional 200 million people would amount to a total
cost of US $2 billion.
14. The impact of small-scale energy technologies
and particularly renewable energy may have a significant impact
on the livelihoods of poor women and men because a limited amount
of power allocated to basic domestic and productive end uses is
sufficient to improve dramatically the social and economic conditions
of poor communities.
15. ITDG's work over the last two decades
on improved stoves and micro hydro had positive impact on the
environment compared with other available credible options. The
stove programme in Kenya, for instance, was successful for a number
of reasons: the central production of key components; the use
of small enterprises to produce and market affordable stoves in
areas where users could afford to pay; the use of women's groups
for stove dissemination in rural areas; and the tailoring of designs
to meet local conditions.
16. Successful demonstrations of the best
technical, social and economic practices in the field of small-scale
energy projects should be replicated on a large scale to make
a significant impact on poor people. A recent study by ITDG evaluated
small scale energy projects (improved cookstoves, biogas digesters,
solar home systems and micro hydro power) in terms of both their
emission reductions and the development benefits they provided.
This analysis has been used to provide guidance to policy makers
for the implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
under the Kyoto Protocol.
17. The experience of ITDG, and others,
in addressing the energy needs of poor communities and small-scale
producers, particularly of women, has identified a number of areas
where further action is required. To achieve cleaner energy technology
paths in developing countries, and contribute to poverty reduction,
it will be important:
To explore alternative, cleaner energy
options for lighting and cooking such as biogas wind, and solar,
to widen the range of affordable and appropriate energy options
for poor people;
To develop the capability to design,
implement and operate small-scale renewable energy projects, where
they can be proven to be more accessible, more cost-effective,
and more sustainable than fossil fuel based options;
To emphasise the use of energy for
productive purposes, low cost technology for energy conversion
and use, and the preference for local equipment and raw materials;
To research and develop a comprehensive
policy framework to make fuel-switching a viable option for the
18. Sustainable development and mitigation
of the impact of climate change require the development and diffusion
of appropriate technology and the strengthening local capabilities
to provide alternative energy options. There is currently no development
co-operation mechanism which would favour small-scale projects
implemented by local players such as small entrepreneurs, rural
communities. Reliance on market mechanisms, which tend to be geared
towards Northern consumers, is unlikely to develop and deliver
the technologies required to enable the poor to adopt a cleaner
energy path. Yet there is a vast potential for local, small-scale
projects which, if replicated on a large scale, could have a significant
impact on climate change and sustainable development. Support
for the development and diffusion of energy technologies appropriate
to the needs of the poor should therefore be an integral element
to international development co-operation strategy.
Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG)