Globalisation, Inequality and Energy
One in five people in the world still lack access to modern electricity. Is it possible to greatly improve energy access without jeopardizing the climate? Can we combine development with sustainability at a scale that truly matters? How can Africa avoid being left behind as “The Dark Continent”? These question where dicussed on the 11th and 12th of June when UiO:Energy organized a seminar on energy and development toghether with L’Institut français d’Oslo and The Norwegian Solar Energy Cluster.
Jean-François Dobelle, Ambassador of France to Norway
The seminar covered the topic from a wide range of disciplines with participants coming from both academia, governmental bodies and industry.
Benjamin Sovacool from the University of Sussex gave an introduction to energy poverty and inequality in Asia and Africa. During his talk, Sovacool mentioned the effects of energy poverty on indoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution caused by burning firewood and charcoal inside homes ranks third on the global burden of disease risk factors, surpassed only by malnutrition and poor water and sanitation. Sovacool emphasized that in order to succeed in projects on energy access in developing countries it is necessary with an integrated approach. Therefore collaboration between the disciplines and actors need to be encouraged.
Jon Lomøy from Norad presented the the Clean Energy Initiative 2007-2016. The Initiative represents 12% of official development assistance and has contributed towards improved access to modern energy services for more then 10.5 million people, clean cooking for 7.5 million people and Norfund investments has led to 5000 Megawatts from mainly renewable sources. At the same time he emphasized that the road ahead is complicated and there will be need for more private sector investments, more national resource mobilisation and better governance, framework condiitons.
The first day of the seminar also included talks by researchers and representatives from governmental bodies within energy and development from France and Norway. From the University of Oslo, Elin Lerum Boasson from The Department of Political Science talked about the conflict between state aid rules and the renewable directive from EU and the ongoing discussion on how the future support scheme for renewables should be designed in Europe.
Chris Butters from the Center for Development and the Environment disussed the serious and growing problem of urban heating all over the world. Urban heating is an equity issue affecting poor people who often live and work without access to air conditioning. Butters also stressed that this is also an European problem - during a heat wave in Europe in 2003 it`s estimated that 70000 deaths was caused by lack of electricity and access to air-conditioning.
Kalle Moene from ESOP talked about the crises of inequality in the world. Although the economy of countries like India and China is growing, the inequality within these countries and others is growing. The gap between the rich and the poor becomes wider and wider. He stressed that there is a tendency for countries with poor institutions to have more unequal income balance and less developed collective welfare systems.Countries rich in natural resources consitute both welfare growth 'winners' and 'losers'. The main difference between success and cases of failiure lays in the quality of the institutions also reflected in the level of inequality.
The second day focused on financing renewables for development by presentation from companies and NGO`s working with energy poverty in the Africa and Asia.
The seminar ended with the annual Alf Bjørseth inspiration award. This year's winner was Henrik Hovde Sønsteby, who has completed a doctoral thesis in piezo and ferroelectric thin films.