Billions need electricity, but experts say coal is not the answer

Billions need electricity, but experts say coal is not the answer

Experts say developing nations need renewable energy solutions, not coal.

Billions of people worldwide still have inadequate access to electricity for their basic needs, such as cooking and heat. But while fossil fuels have long promised to bring cheap power across the globe, experts from international aid organizations now say that renewable energy sources should be favored over coal or other fossil fuels when it comes to powering the developing world.

A new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis has found that coal consumption is declining worldwide and likely has already peaked in 2013, according to The Guardian. While the coal industry has for years promised to bring cheap electricity to help developing nations, in fact today there are still billions of people without adequate access to basic electrical services.

In an analysis, aid experts from three development agencies say that by 2030, a billion people would still be without electricity and three billion without clean cooking facilities if we continue to rely on coal. The report by Cafod, Christian Aid and the Overseas Development Institute suggests instead that the most efficient and affordable power systems for people in the developing world are locally-controlled renewable energy developments.

In addition, climate scientists say that 80 percent of known coal reserves must not be mined, to insure that the planet does not reach critical warming. Given the scientific and political pressures on the coal industry, some investors have lately been dumping coal stocks at a rapid pace.

The aid organizations point out that current uses of coal in developing countries are typically not for those who need electricity the most, but instead go to industrial uses or to power the homes of middle-class consumers who can afford to pay for the expensive fuel.

They also note that people who are already living in poverty are more likely to suffer from disruptions related to climate change.

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