Harness energy resources to reduce poverty – IIED

Developing nations have untapped resources that could enable them to fight poverty, create jobs, gain energy independence and help adapt to climate change, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED),has published.

The IIED implored third world countries to take advantage of their dependence on biomass fuels including wood and charcoal and move towards green economies in which the less privilege could benefit from producing sustainable, clean energy.

The IIED report copied to the Ghana News Agency in Tamale on Wednesday noted that, reliance on biomass fuels is set to triple from 10 to 30 per cent of global energy consumption by 2050.

The IIED which is an independent international research organisation, based in the United Kingdom explained that advanced new technologies could be used to convert wood to liquid and gaseous fuel or could produce wood bundles or pellets that could be ‘gasified’ to produce electricity.

“While developed nations are taking this seriously, developing nations are generally lagging behind, and treat biomass energy as traditional and dirty, a health hazard, poverty trap and threat to forests. But the report shows how they can turn their already heavy biomass dependence into an advantage”, it said.

Biomass energy is highly flexible and can be readily converted into all the major energy carriers (heat, electricity, liquid and gas). This means it can meet many of the diverse energy needs: from irrigation pumps and illumination, through agricultural processing and refrigeration to transport and telecommunication.

According to the report, if nations manage their forests and ensure replanting happens in a way that is sensitive to food security needs, biomass can be a renewable and sustainable source of energy. Biomass also produces lower emissions of greenhouse gases than fossil fuels.

It said biomass energy was labour intensive across the whole supply chain and could be a source of employment options to reduce poverty, while the potential health hazards could be easily solved by better processing and stove technologies.

Mr. Duncan Macqueen, a senior researcher in IIED’s natural resources group and co-author of the report, said, “Many governments in developing nations dissuade people from burning wood or charcoal as fuel as they think it is backward, but this just criminalises poor people for their energy needs and does little to limit deforestation.

“Instead, government should embrace and legalise biomass fuels as a source of energy and enact policies that make supply chains sustainable.”

He called on developing nations to adopt biomass energy and end any historic prejudices against such fuels to better serve the interest of their countries.

“This will need a new approach that legalises and secures sustainable production by and for the millions of poor people who both produce and depend on biomass for energy,” he said.

Ms Sibel Korhaliller, co-author, said fossil fuels were running out and threatening the global climate in the process suggesting that the only alternative for countries was renewable and sustainable energy.

The report outlines ways for developing nations to enact policies to capitalise on the potential for biomass fuels to tackle climate change and poverty, and create energy security, jobs and sustainable economies.

Source: GNA

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