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In what was perhaps another sign that the challenge of energy poverty is finding a voice in Congress, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing recently on electricity access in the 21st Century.
Summary: Senator Leahy (D, VT) represents a state which depends heavily on clean, cheap hydropower. His use of the budget bill to deny poor countries an opportunity to develop their hydropower resources leads to further erosion of global leadership by the United States and reinforces the need for BRICs Bank.
Energy poverty is an endemic and crippling problem; nearly 600 million people in Africa live without access to any power, which also means no access to safer and healthier electric cooking and heating, powered health centers and refrigerated medicines, light to study at night, or electricity to run a business. Here’s the situation in the 6 countries chosen to be part of President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative, home to nearly 1/3 of the continent’s population.
Over at the Council on Foreign Relations website, Michael Levi posted a reply to our recent paper on estimating the tradeoffs between OPIC power generation investments based upon natural gas and renewable sources. We are grateful to Michael for his thoughtful comments and for instigating a sensible discussion of the underlying issues.
Is the US taking a more restrictive stance toward coal projects in the multilateral development banks (MDBs)? Certainly, this press release from the US Treasury and subsequent press coverage would suggest a major policy shift. Technically, the Treasury’s announcement does point pretty clearly to more restrictiveness. But practically speaking?
Rising commodity prices and tight government budgets are adding to pressures to reduce subsidies for energy and agriculture in many countries. Two new reports, including my recent paper on agricultural and biofuel subsidies, provide fodder for this debate by documenting the extent of subsidies in these sectors and analyzing their negative effects, particularly for developing countries and the poor.
We’ve been surprised at all the attentionTodd’s new fridge has gotten recently—including comments saying the comparison against African per capita electricity consumption isn’t fair because many of those people don’t have refrigerators. Exactly our point!