Access to electrification based on renewable energy sources is at the crossroads of both major objectives, which have mobilized the United Nations for two decades: the eradication of extreme poverty and climate change mitigation.
The Copenhagen Climate Change conference and the proposed Green Climate Fund did open the path, that Cancun and Durban conferences have confirmed. Today, universal access to modern and sustainable energy is fully identified as a major condition for human, social and economic development of the poorest regions of vulnerable countries.
Electricity access, even in limited quantity, allows to break the vicious circle of extreme poverty: access to lighting; to modern communications; to groundwater pumping; to pharmaceutical and alimentary refrigeration; to agricultural modernization; to craft; etc. Hence access to education, health, economic development and maintaining populations in rural areas which are at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals.
However, investment is lagging behind the level needed to ensure fulfilment of universal access. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), one of the Kyoto mechanisms, has demonstrated its limits to respond to the needs of less advanced countries: out of a total of 3,952 projects registered at the CDM Board today, only 85 are located in Africa, only a few of which devoted to energy. Most of the projects dedicated to rural electrification do not pass the commercial profitability threshold of private companies and financial markets. Small-scale projects need fast-track, accelerated, simplified procedures and also much larger incentives than those generated by the CERs carbon credits generated. Bridging the financial and entrepreneurial gaps requires additional and innovative resources and the mobilization of national and international investors.
The World Sustainable Electrification Council, a NGO dedicated to mobilize and gather the relevant stakeholders involved in the universal access and the development of renewable energies in developing countries, calls for the signing of an international Convention establishing the Clean Energy Access Mechanism (or CDM PLUS): “The signatory parties of the Clean Energy Access Convention (countries members of Annex B of the UNFCCC) will institute in their national legislation a provision authorizing public utilities to allocate a fraction of the regulated tariff to subsidizing affiliate foundations dedicated to investment in rural electrification using renewable resources, eligible to the CDM Mechanism.”
The CDM PLUS is part of voluntary commitments, mobilizing partnership from companies, regulating authorities, electricity consumers, local authorities, unions.
Twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio where the UNFCCC was enacted, the CDM PLUS project would transform the international solidarity objectives into concrete realizations, bringing clean kilowatt hours to poor populations presently deprived of access.
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