The real issue at COP27 is energy security

Source: The post is based on the article “The real issue at COP27 is energy security” published in The Hindu on 5th November 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 – Environment 

Relevance: Climate change and associated issues 

News: The article explains the global energy inequality across the world. 

What are issues related to climate change negotiations? 

Climate declarations by developed countries are not enough to limit the temperature rise by 1.5-degree celsius. 

Four-fifths of the global carbon budget to limit warming to 1.5°C has already been exhausted. Developed countries are responsible for more than half of these historical CO2 emissions. But they are not assuming their historical responsibility. 

What are some facts related to global energy inequality? 

In 2021, 733 million people had no access to electricity. Almost 2.6 billion people lacked access to clean fuels and technologies. The average per capita energy use of the richest 20 countries is 85 times higher than that of the 20 poorest countries. 

The reality of global inequality was acutely evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are facing severe agricultural and industrial slowdowns in the post-pandemic period.  

In 2022, these inequalities have been aggravated by rising energy and food prices. Poor and energy-importing countries of the global South suffer the most. Almost 90 million people in Asia and Africa, who gained access to electricity recently, cannot afford to pay their energy bills. 

Why addressing the issue of energy inequality is important? 

There is a strong correlation between energy supply and human development 

The average annual per capita electricity consumption of sub-Saharan Africa is 487 kilowatt-hours. It has an infant mortality rate of 73 per 1000 live births and per capita GDP of $1,645. 

On the other hand, the OECD group of countries have a per capita electricity consumption of 7750 kWh. It has an infant mortality rate of 18 and per capita GDP of $42,098. 

What is the hypocrisy of the global north? 

In the United States, 81% of primary energy is from fossil fuels. In Europe, fossil fuels constitute 76% of energy consumption.  

The level of decarbonisation in the global North has been minuscule.  

In July 2022, the European Union voted to classify the use of natural gas for some uses as “green and sustainable”. Natural gas was responsible for 7.5 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2020. 

They are advocating the need for shifting to green energy by the developing world. They are using this argument for banning the financing of fossil fuels in poor countries. 

What is the way forward? 

At COP27, the question of energy poverty and the global inequalities in energy access should be the centre of all discussions.  

The world needs to achieve zero hunger, zero malnutrition, zero poverty, and universal well-being. There is a need for global cooperation against energy inequality. 

Developing countries should show leadership to ensure that discussion is based on equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

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