EU should support developing countries in energy access - survey
By Eric van Puyvelde | Thursday 12 April 2012
A flash Eurobarometer survey, published on 12 April, revealed that 95% of Europeans think that access to energy is an important precondition for overcoming poverty in developing countries. The survey comes ahead of the EU Sustainable Energy for All Summit in Brussels, on 16 April, which will bring together the EU, the UN and developing countries with industry, civil society and the private sector. Participants will include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Dr Kandeh K. Yumkella, director-general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and Michelle Bachelet, executive director of UN Women.
“Energy is essential for delivering health, education, food and all basic needs. Investing in access to clean energy in the poorest countries will help to achieve the double goal of sustainable and inclusive growth and mitigating climate change,” Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs commented. He added: “During the EU energy summit, the EU will announce its ambition to move up a gear to ‘energise’ development”.
Key results of the Eurobarometer:
- 61% of Europeans think that having access to energy is very important for overcoming poverty and 34% think it is fairly important. This is slightly lower than other areas, such as water and sanitation (100%), food (98%) or peace and security (99%).
- 90% think that the EU should support developing countries in their efforts to improve access to energy (48% totally agree and 42% tend to agree).
- 82% think that the percentage of EU development aid that is spent on improving energy access should be higher than its current level of 2% (42% totally agree and 40% tend to agree).
- 77% of respondents believe that the main future source of energy for developing countries should be renewable energies, such as wind, hydropower and solar. Few respondents think that oil, coal or gas (7%), nuclear (6%) or biomass (4%) should be prioritised.
- 83% think that the EU benefits from supporting developing countries in their efforts to improve access to energy, through things such as increased trade or the creation of jobs (41% totally agree and 42% tend to agree).
Around 1.3 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity and the opportunities it provides for working, learning or operating a business. Some 2.7 billion use wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste to cook their meals and heat their homes, thereby exposing themselves and their families to smoke and fumes that damage their health and which directly contribute to the deaths of nearly two million people every year.
The EU is the leading donor in supporting developing countries in their efforts to improve access to energy services. The European Commission alone devoted 278.5 million euro to energy programmes in 2010.