Ideas to Action:

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CGD in the News

December 9, 2018

Todd Moss: When it Comes to Energy, Big is Beautiful (Nonprofit Chronicles)

From the article:
Who could object to efforts to bring clean, renewable energy to people without electricity? Donors and investors love social enterprises (D.Light, Greenlight Planet, BrightLife) and nonprofits (SolarAid, GivePower) that bring solar panels, lights or phone chargers to poor households in Africa and south Asia. Why, even President Obama, on a visit to Tanzania, played with a Soccket, a soccer ball that generates just enough energy to power a light bulb or charge a phone.
Trouble arises, though, when these well-intentioned, small-scale initiatives draw attention away from utility-scale energy projects that can power businesses and drive economic growth–the kinds of big projects that lifted the US, Europe, Japan, China and much of the rest of the world out of poverty. Or, worse, when an absolutist devotion to renewable energy stands in the way of big, centralized projects–specifically, the natural gas, coal and nuclear power projects that, even today, provide more than 80 percent of the electricity used in the US.
This is Todd Moss’s concern. Moss, 48, is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a former state department official and a PhD economist who recently launched the Energy for Growth Hub. The Energy for Growth Hub is a network of scholars and advocates who want to bring some common sense to the conversation about how get energy to everyone in Africa and Asia. They are focused not just on the 1.3bn people whose homes are without a light switch but the 3bn or so who live in places where a lack of reliable, abundant electricity remains a barrier to progress.
Read the full article here.
August 20, 2017

How Nigeria Can Cure its Oil Addiction (Newsweek)

From the article:

Nigeria is addicted to oil. The oil industry contributes around 70 percent of Nigeria’s government revenue and over 90 percent of export earnings. Successive Nigerian governments have sought to diversify the economy, with limited success. But the global embrace of electric cars and the expansion of renewable energy is a signal of the waning power of oil globally...

At present, Nigeria uses only 15 percent of its gas supply domestically. According to the Center for Global Development, large-scale natural gas investments could cut Nigeria's CO2 output by  Ctrl+Click or tap to follow the link">18 million metric tons per year —a 63 percent decrease from current levels. Natural gas is up to 40 percent cheaper than diesel for power generation, and has approximately one-tenth as many nitrogen and sulfur oxides, making it far cleaner to use both industrially and residentially.

Read full article here.

July 11, 2017

G20 Development Pledges Overshadowed By Climate Rift (Devex)

From the article:

World leaders at the G-20 summit reached a consensus on an array of development issues, from investment in Africa to pandemic preparedness, during their two-day meeting in Hamburg, Germany, this weekend.

Yet amid one of the most visible policy rifts between the United States and the rich-country grouping, many analysts and advocates are concerned that those areas of consensus papered over broader disagreements on trade, finance and climate that will ultimately have a greater impact on the developing world...

The summit ended with an official G-20 Africa Partnership, with the Compact with Africa as a core component. Also included are commitments to develop infrastructure — especially around sustainable energy — and to improve economic growth and employment. A youth employment initiative will aim to create 1.1 million new jobs for young people by 2022 worldwide, with a particular focus on Africa. But the compact is the clear centerpiece.

“Conceptually, it’s strong and really reflects good thinking about how to spur particularly private investment in lower-income countries,” said Scott Morris, an expert at the Center for Global Development. “And then, of course, it clearly has the strong backing of the full G-20, which is something we shouldn’t take for granted given other areas of clear division for the U.S.”

Read full article here.

June 2, 2017

Experts Say US Was Given Fair and Flexible Terms in Paris Climate Agreement (Humanosphere)

From the article:

The Paris Agreement, adopted in Dec. 2015, aims to limit the increase in the global average temperature to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But what some say makes the agreement fairly innovative and flexible is that it employs voluntary commitments set by each country, which are not legally-binding.

“The pledges come in all shapes and sizes to reflect that there’s countries at every stage of their development –some that are still poor and growing very rapidly … and others that are already prosperous,” Jonah Busch, a senior fellow for climates, forests and energy at the Center for Global Development told Humanosphere.

According to Busch, the agreement’s voluntary nature – promoted by the U.S. and others – made sure that every country could take part. The only ones who did not sign on were Syria, which is embroiled in war, and Nicaragua, where officials said they did not think the Paris Agreement was strong enough...

“Paris on its own was not expected to get the world under 2 degrees anyway without future action,” Busch said. “We’re still looking at a world where we have to innovate now and make things easier later.”

One solution, which doesn’t get as much attention as clean energy, is tackling deforestation, which is “cheaper, easier and faster to deal with,” according to Busch. If deforestation were its own country, he said, it would be the third largest source of emissions after China and the United States.

Still, the strength of the agreement is that it doesn’t depend on any one country for success – even big ones like the U.S.

Read full article here.

March 5, 2016

Bill Gates Calls For ‘Energy Miracle’ In 15 Years. Do Experts Agree? (NPR Goats and Soda)

From article:

Todd Moss, chief operating officer and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development

I think Bill Gates is on to a really important issue. Energy is the foundation of modern life: the way we work, live, travel, communicate all requires huge amounts of energy. And energy is critical to job growth and wealth creation. People can't work in a factory if it's 100 degrees. If we don't want countries to burn a lot more fossil fuels in the future, we're going to need better technology to create the volume of modern energy that people in aspiring economies require. And wealthy, educated, healthy societies consume large amounts of energy. There are no rich countries that consume a little bit of energy.

Read full article here.

December 22, 2015

Which Burns More Kilowatt-Hours: America's Christmas Lights or Tanzania? (NPR)

From article

A headline for a chart caught our eye this week: "US Holiday Lights Use More Electricity than El Salvador Does In a Year."

According to the chart, America burns 6.63 billion kilowatt-hours to shine its end-of-year holiday lights. By comparison, annual kilowatt-hours in the developing world are paltry. In an entire year, El Salvador uses 5.35 billion kilowatt-hours. Ethiopia is at 5.30 billion, Tanzania at 4.8 billion, Nepal at 3.28 billion and Cambodia at 3.06 billion. (Those numbers come from the World Bank.)

Todd Moss and his colleague Priscilla Agyapong put together the graphic. He's a fellow at the Center for Global Development; energy is one of his topics.

Read full article here.

September 28, 2015

If Everyone Gets Electricity, Can The Planet Survive? (The Atlantic)

From the article: Last week, the vast majority of the world’s prime ministers and presidents, along with the odd pontiff and monarch, gathered in New York to sign up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Across 169 targets, the SDGs declare the global aspiration to end poverty and malnutrition, slash child mortality, and guarantee universal secondary education by 2030. And they also call for universal access to modern energy alongside taking “urgent action to combat climate change.”

These last two targets are surely important, but they conflict, too: More electricity production is likely to mean more greenhouse-gas emissions. The UN squares that circle by using a definition of modern energy access that involves a pitifully low level of electricity consumption. But that does a disservice to both those worried about development and those concerned by climate change. Poor people are going to have to consume a lot more energy if they are to enjoy a lifestyle that those in the West take for granted—and that is going to take environmental pragmatism in the short term and a revolutionary change in the technology of electricity production in the long term.

Read full article here

July 27, 2015

Letter to the Editor: Electricity for Africa (New York Times)

From article

Plan to Keep the Lights On in Africa Sputters From the Start” (news article, July 22) gave the impression that this White House-led initiative to expand electricity in the world’s poorest countries was just another government program failing to deliver.

Building a modern power system is not like buying drugs for AIDS patients or delivering food to the hungry. Energy projects in Africa typically take five to 10 years from inception to completion.

Power Africa was launched only two years ago. Fortunately, Capitol Hill understands this, and legislation, if passed, will provide both long-term congressional support and oversight by tracking sensible metrics.

I hope that President Obama’s trip to Kenya this week will spur even more efforts to bring electricity to some of the 600 million Africans who live without.

Read full article here

January 9, 2015

The Coal Dilemma (Devex)

From the article:

“There clearly are tensions within development institutions depending on where people sit and what their mandates are within the institution,” Scott Morris, senior associate at the Center for Global Development, told Devex.

“If your mandate is explicitly energy and energy access, you’re going to have the one predictable viewpoint. If you have a climate mandate, you’re going to have the other one,” he added.

Read the article here

November 6, 2014

Slow Climate Change or End Energy Poverty? Let's Do Both (Christian Science Monitor)

From the article

Currently, there is no universally accepted definition for energy access, but the International Energy Agency (IEA) measures modern energy access as 100 kilowatt hours (kWh) per person per year. As Todd Moss, senior fellow with the Center for Global Development, points out, the average American consumes 100 kWh in just three days, and people in more energy efficient European States use this same amount in five days.

Read the article here