Varun Sivaram

Energy, Security, and Climate

CFR experts examine the science and foreign policy surrounding climate change, energy, and nuclear security.

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Showing posts for "energy poverty"

Do India’s Renewable Energy Targets Make Sense?

by Varun Sivaram
Flickr(CC)/Hiroo Yamagata

By way of introduction, I’m brand new to CFR and excited to contribute to this blog. I joined last week as a fellow in CFR’s Center for Geoeconomic Studies, and I plan to write about renewable energy technology, climate policy, and national security—with an eye toward emerging markets. Before CFR, I did stints at McKinsey’s cleantech practice and in municipal government, working on energy policy for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. I also studied physics at Stanford and Oxford—my group in Oxford researched third generation solar panels that we hope will one day make colorful coatings for skyscraper windows. Read more »

Is U.S. Fossil Fuel Policy Keeping Millions Poor?

by Michael Levi
Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

Is the U.S. government keeping tens of millions of people poor by focusing its development assistance on renewables rather than gas and coal? It’s a critical question – particularly as the United States ramps up its Power Africa effort – that’s addressed thoughtfully by Todd Moss and Benjamin Leo in a new Center for Global Development paper that Bjorn Lomborg highlighted in a USA Today column this weekend. Read more »

How Much Is Being Spent on Energy Poverty?

by Michael Levi

Regular readers of this blog know that I wish that delivering greater access to modern energy services were higher up policymakers’ priority list. In a paper last fall, several coauthors and I estimated the cost of delivering universal access to electricity at $12-$134 billion (best guess: about $60 billion) over the next couple decades. Read more »

Is Climate Policy Endangering Efforts to Address Energy Poverty?

by Michael Levi

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending a day with people from around the world who are deeply involved in trying to deliver electricity to the nearly two billion people who lack it. I learned a lot, but I was struck by one pattern: a large fraction of the people and countries working to expand energy access seem to be shaping their initiatives so that they can tap into the hundred billion dollars a year of climate-related funding that developed countries have promised they’ll try to mobilize by 2020. In practice, this means that many appear to be tilting their energy access efforts strongly toward renewable energy and away from fossil fuels, and toward dependence on a yet-to-be-created Green Climate Fund. These are dangerous trends. Read more »

A New Paper on Energy Poverty

by Michael Levi

I’m a coauthor on a new paper, “Understanding the Scale of Investment for Universal Energy Access”, just published in Geopolitics of Energy. (The other authors are from UNIDO, the IEA, and Margaree Consultants.) We assess the cost of delivering basic electricity and modern cooking fuels to those who currently lack them (about 1.3 and 3 billion people respectively). After presenting a comprehensive review of other estimates, we derive our own: $12-134 billion for electrification, and $1.4-2.2 billion for clean cooking fuels. To be clear, this isn’t a cost estimate for government spending: it is the total annual cost, including private expenditures. The sources of this money and the policy framework for mobilizing it are separate matters. Read more »

The Other 1.6 Billion

by Michael Levi

As (some) Americans focus their attention on addressing climate change and energy security, it’s easy to forget that a quarter of the world (about 1.6 billion people) have absolutely no access to electricity. That situation undermines pretty much every aspect of development, from health to education to personal safety. A new UN report (PDF), released today (on what organizers have called “Energy for Development Day“), admirably draws attention to the issue, and to some options for addressing it. (For a non-PDF news account, take a look here.) Read more »