Pupils at St Mary’s RC High School in Lugwardine, Hereford are making their voices heard to the UK’s representative at the World Bank, Melanie Robinson. They are raising their concerns about the lack of access to renewable energy for some of the world’s poorest people.
CAFOD South Wales was invited into the school to talk to members of de Paul at their house assembly, specifically about this issue. CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign is calling for more investment in local, renewable energy in developing countries.
Why? Because 1 in 6 people in the world live without access to electricity. Children have to rely on unpredictable, dangerous and unhealthy energy sources such as candles, paraffin lamps and firewood.
Nearly 90 % of people without access to electricity live in villages. It can be difficult and very expensive to extend the electricity grid to homes, clinics and schools in rural areas.
Local, renewable energy can transform the lives of children. It can help families to lift themselves out of poverty, without harming the environment. And the fastest, cheapest and most efficient solution is usually to provide “mini-grids” that are powered by renewable energy.
The World Bank, is the single biggest channel of UK funding for energy access for poor communities. The World Bank’s mission is to end poverty. But it’s only a tiny proportion of their budget. In fact less than 3% of their budget supports the kind of renewable energy that we know benefits the poorest communities.
The World Bank is jointly owned by 189 country governments, but shareholder countries like the UK hold greater power in making decisions which is why it’s vital we make our voices heard to Melanie Robinson.
The UK has a strong voice as it’s one of only 5 countries which appoints it own executive director. The other 25 are elected, often by other countries.
So we are asking our UK Executive Director to use her voice on the board to make sure that the World Bank invests in providing safe, reliable, affordable energy for poor communities.
Many people comment that poor countries need fossil fuels to develop. But most people coping with energy poverty live in rural areas where connecting to the electricity grid, however it is powered, is expensive and slow.
The cheapest and quickest option for most households to access electricity is usually a solar home system or a mini-grid, often powered by renewable energy.
Furthermore, the cost of decentralized, renewable technology like solar power is going down fast, but the cost of generating centralized grid power from fossil fuels is rising.
Even when people can afford to get connected to the electricity grid, in many countries it is extremely unreliable with frequent power cuts.
The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and the Paris Climate Deal started us on a new path towards a more sustainable development.
But it’s important to continue to make our voices heard by campaigning to ensure that the UK government honours the commitments it has made.
Thank you to Mrs Leslie and Headteacher, Mr Lambert for their support for CAFOD over many years.