26 Comments

Thanks Ken. Terrific piece. One other example is an (unintended?) outcome of the World Bank’s pledge that 45% of financing will go towards climate. So every project must now report its “climate co-benefits”, which creates all kinds of the worst incentives for the problem you outline. Decisions are skewed for climate reporting not development impact.

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I agree with the title of your piece and 99% of what you say but the sub-heading left me scratching my head. I do not believe that the West wants to save the planet by maintaining energy poverty in poor countries. Their desire to fund carbon projects and alternative fuel production is driven by 1) the belief that these alternatives can deliver benefits (improved cookstoves do deliver better health outcomes for users) and solar PV products have brought electricity to places that would still be waiting for grid access; and 2) the fossil fuel-based economy of the last 100 years has been good to some countries that are endowed with the resources but has done little to address energy poverty in the vast majority of poor countries that are not producers of it. In fact, even fossil fuel producers such as Angola, Nigeria and Gabon have alarmingly high levels of energy poverty. It is therefore debatable that continuing to rely on fossil fuel-driven growth in most African countries is the way forward. Instead, fuels that can be generated in situ (biogas) and fuels that have no cost (solar and wind) provide an opportunity for Africa to increase it energy consumption and economic productivity. We should get the developed world to aggressively fund the deployment of these resources in addition to the fossil fuel resources that we do need to move up the energy consumption ladder.

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Ending energy poverty too important to be left to climate reporters. Humanity needs to help African enter modernity. Thanks for the reminder.

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That's something they need to figure out on their own. It's none of our business.

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Relying on most African governments to build out energy capacity is a lost cause. They should transition towards a fully deregulated energy market that makes use of decentralised renewable energy.

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I enjoyed your article, and agree with most of it. However man caused climate change is one I take issue with. Climate change will continue until this world ends. Do we effect our environment, yes we do. Do we need to do our best, yes we do. Remember those telling Africa to be green are doing it to control it, not help it. Just as they are here.

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agreed. We can't blame every climate problem on increased CO2. We are going to blame flooding in Uganda on CO2? C'mon.

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According to the Breakthrough Institute, “Premature shutdowns of nuclear plants in developed countries, for instance, have caused additional annual carbon emissions that now total 138.1 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents this year (2022). This yearly carbon footprint is nearly equal to the combined annual emissions from 37 African countries with a total population of 455 million people.” And what did Germany do after the Ukraine war was engaged and Russian fuel stopped flowing? They moved as fast as they could to restart coal plants, build natural gas terminals, and import natural gas causing it to go up in price around the world. Observe what governments and NGOs do, not what they say. This story of the west lecturing to Africa about CO2 emissions is the height of hypocrisy. I hope Africa countries can secure new funding sources in order to utilize African resources for the benefit of their citizens.

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Excellent article. Most African countries need increased energy capacity to process materials before export and eliminate subsistence agriculture that destroys habitat. Natural gas is locally extracted and can be near the cost of coal and has substantially lower GHG emissions than coal or oil and should be priority for investment. Nuclear fission is the longer term solution with the lowest habitat and GHG impact, and should be developed where affordable. Only 5% of African hydropower is developed so for many it offers low cost power though with habitat impact. Build Grand Inga now! The western NGO / eco imperialist trends are blocking financing for these energy sources and have a pledge to prevent Africans from consuming African natural gas exported by the oil majors. The main reason is not to block development, though climate fakery can be used to discourage accepting BRICS infrastructure projects. The main reason is that climate virtue has been interwoven with western geopolitics and business investment in a similar fashion that Christianity was interwoven with 1800s European colonialism. This virtue is complete fraud since solar and wind intermittentcy cannot provide capacity needed. Yet the eco virtue mirage, along with identity victimology have become central to advertise western difference and superior democracy, without them the ‘free world’ isn’t different from the other countries rising into middle income. To compound matters the US is turning protectionism against its western allies. The leadership of global development is shifting to the BRICS and nativist trends are opposing the western establishment from within.

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I agree with much of the article, but for something rightly challenging the short sightedness of 'cookstoves', it feels about a decade out of date.

There's the simple fact that solar, especially, is simply the cheapest energy source now and getting cheaper. If you need to build up a grid and factories from scratch, it makes sense to do so around the solar supply, not replicate grids that were designed around maximum baseload so that capital intensive fuel burners were used efficiently. You have to take the current economics seriously, otherwise it's cookstoves all over again, just a few steps up the ladder.

The second point, and I'd dearly love to read your thoughts on this, is the fossil debt trap as identified by Debnath et al in Bangladesh. In the dash for energy growth, they took loans against expected economic growth to build gas power plants. But now nearly all the increased revenue is going on fuel and debt financing, and they're unable to afford to transistion to a cheaper tech. How real is this threat for policy?

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/378526730_Although_feasible_falling_renewables_costs_might_not_benefit_Bangladesh's_energy_sector's_decarbonisation_Is_this_another_'debt-fossil_fuel_production_trap'

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Great article.

"cookstoves’ impact on emissions are probably overstating their beneficial impact on the climate by an average of 1,000%.” 100% agreed. The impact report of a large and well known cookstove company was laughable. Using the best possible assumptions for the cookstove and the worst for the firewood that would have been used.

Why didn't you include nuclear power as the clean energy solution? Genuinely curious.

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As always, your articles represent concrete and shareable food for thought. But the main problem always remains the same; the hypocrisy of too many politicians, who in fact pursue their own interests or those of their sponsors, contributes to consolidating a climate of mistrust in the population who easily falls prey to modern sophists and rhetoricians. We have still a long way to go to significantly change these socio-political patterns.

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All 8 billion people on Earth today would stack easily, if somewhat uncomfortably, within half of the Grand Canyon.

That’s NOT ttttoooo mmmannnnyyy people!!!!

So, what’s the real issue.

I figure it’s the liberal, progressive, woke first worlders who enjoy their high standard of living and don’t want to share with the up and coming third worlders who don’t add value, i.e. black/yellow/brown.

And the famine, disease, violence of energy poverty is as effective as a bullet in the head and mass graves without leaving progressive fingerprints.

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Another stacker....if you stack yourself into the Grand Canyon along with 8 billion people, please let me know your quality of life after a month. I am willing to bet you'd be dead. No water,no food, no ablution. Does your stacking refer to you standing up or lying down? With personal belongings or without? Are you standing in the sun with a roof over your head or just facing the elements as you are? Probably one of the most unrealistic and unscientific arguments to be made re overpopulation considering the very real picture of the world today. Humans aren't stacked, they are spread all over the earth and need water, food and energy. This all happens via distribution networks, which require energy (mostly diesel) to transport and pump said needs to where they find themselves. The world currently has the lowest amount of diesel per person available (www.ourfiniteworld.com). This means water,food and energy are becoming more expensive and harder to get access to, especially for poor people.

I think if you stacked yourself into to the Grand Canyon you would find that distribution of water, food and energy towards the middle of the stack would be fairly poor - leading to fatalities.

This is very much what the author is describing in this article regarding energy needs of developing countries vs the green agenda of developed countries.

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“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”

Galileo Galilei

Believe = religion

Think = opinion

Know = science

Here is what I know.

What do you know that’s different?

GHE theory fails because of these two erroneous assumptions:

Earth is warmed by GHE/GHGs preventing it from becoming a 33 C cooler, 255 K, -18 C ball of ice.

Wrong.

&

Earth’s surface radiates “extra” LWIR energy as a black body creating an upwelling, looping, trapping warming effect.

Wrong.

Earth is cooler w the atmos/WV/30% albedo not warmer.

YouTube: Greenhouse Effect Theory Goes Kerbluey

Ubiquitous GHE heat balance graphics use bad math and badder physics.

YouTube: Atmospheric Heat Balances That Don't

Kinetic heat transfer modes of contiguous atmos molecules render a BB surface model impossible.

Search: “Bruges group kerbluey”

Consensus science has a well-documented history of being way wrong and abusing those who dared to challenge it & the current consensus is wrong about GHE & CAGW.

GHE theory & CAGW climate “science” are indefensible pseudo-science rubbish forcing alarmists to resort to fear mongering, lies, lawsuits, censorship and violence.

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Who is advocating that the planet will be saved by maintaining energy poverty in low-income countries? What is usually said is that energy consumption must be reduced significantly in the developed world so that there is room for the low-income countries to develop.

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Watching concrete action is a better tell than words. By the way this tax credit affect exports from developing countries. Case in point the latest EU green requirement for coca exports from Ghana.

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A policy of each country taxing its net emissions of CO2 is not “pretending that the planet will be saved by maintaining energy poverty in low-income states.” Especially for countries of the Sahel and N. Africa, it ought to open up zero-CO2 energy exports.

It is ture that is not the policy framework of the Paris agreements, but we can change that.

See:

https://thomaslhutcheson.substack.com/p/cop-28-and-counting

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What you're missing is an issue of trust. Developing countries don't want to be proverberly 'left holding the bag'. The carbon credit approach is all good. But one is sceptical if it would help developing countries.

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Electrification of Indian railway doesn't really matter from a climate change perspective. Railway collectively account for less than 1% of total ghg emissions. What is commendable is India's rising share of renewable electricity production and electrification of two wheelers and three wheelers.

Kenya also made a lot of progress. Roughly 75% of their electricity comes from low carbon sources primarily geothermal and wind.

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That's why Africa should not rely on the world bank and Western aid organisations. Their incentives, as you mentioned, is driven by their donors and not by the objectives of developing countries. Hence, all these development agencies should be abolished wholesale.

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