If you follow climate news at all, you’ve probably heard someone (likely a politician or corporate executive) say something along the lines of “we need more coal power to lift Africans out of poverty” at some stage before. But lines like that are proving to be the last gasp of a dying industry again and again as clean, renewable energy paves the way to a just new world.
Because thanks, fossil fuel industry, but your products have been feeble when it comes to ending poverty here in Africa or globally, and now we’re learning that we don’t really need to invest in them at all.
What’s true for India there is true for Africa too.
The coal industry’s misleading attempts to brand itself as a poverty fighter continue to unravel, with a new report from Oxfam Australia demonstrating that renewable energy is the easiest, cheapest, and most effective method to give people life-changing energy access.
The Powering Up Against Poverty report shows that given its heavy health and climate impacts, coal is an ill-conceived solution to bring power to one billion people around the world.
With four out of five people without electricity living in rural areas that are often not connected to a centralised energy grid, the Oxfam report showcasing the renewable energy solutions working for communities around the world – from solar energy in the Pacific to new ways of powering Africa, China and India.
Indeed, the World Bank also said last month that when it comes to lifting countries out of poverty, coal was part of the problem – and not part of a broader solution.
The cost of renewable energy has gone down dramatically since 2005, while fossil fuels are becoming riskier business with every new frontier the industry tries to extract from. It is time for Africa to leapfrog outdated and dirty energy sources like these and make use of our abundant renewable energy potential.