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Climate Solidarity at the summit

While we in the West are trying to fund ways to reduce consumption, more than 1 billion people in developing countries have no access to energy. Communicating vessels may not be a principle that always hold true but perhaps Climate Solidarity is.

What a paradox : overconsumption and lack of energy access are causing economic difficulties

While many countries in Africa and Asia are suffering from a lack of energy access, we are racking our brains to fund out how we can reduce our “unnecessary” consumption and find solutions that will enable us to consume less. It is a paradox but our overconsumption is causing economic difficulties.

In Europe, 4 million households are already experiencing energy poverty. Because they can’t pay their bills any more, because energy prices are rising, because they have to consume too much energy, families are falling into poverty. According to the Abbé Pierre Foundation, this figure could very soon double.

In developing countries, 1.3 billion people (19% of the global population and including 50% of the African population) have no access to electricity. Without this basic lever, these people have very limited development capability. Their energy situation has a considerable bearing on how they can access and manage water, agriculture, food, housing, health and education. Apart from major regional disparities, rural areas are still far too often experiencing an energy shortfall.

So here we are getting poorer because we consume too much while people in the South are poor because they lack energy for development! Reducing energy consumption in the North and improving access in the South are therefore two key challenges coexisting in a world that sees reducing CO2 emissions as a priority. Solutions do exist and we know what they are.

An inverted mirror, but solutions that work just need to be rolled out on a wide scale…

In the North, we must think first of all of creating local jobs for energy retrofitting of homes, giving priority to the worst off households. In the South, renewable or passive energy sources can be developed without heavy infrastructure but have a direct effect on economic activities in regions with no access to the grid.  Here we need local household support schemes such as SLIME (local energy management services), which we at CLER and GERES know have proved their worth. Now it’s up to our political decision-makers to make a genuine commitment. The ACHIEVE* scheme implemented by GERES in Marseille shows that it is possible to save up to €200 on a family’s annual bill and 300 kg of CO2 equivalent per supported family, per year, supporting 1000 households. Our local authorities have everything to gain in both social and environmental terms.

In developing countries, there are projects seeking to provide access to efficient, clean energy. Solutions that work just need to be rolled out on a wide scale. To do this, international stakeholders and governments in the South need to show determination. The priority is to target funding on climate-compatible projects that can also demonstrate social and economic benefits. This is the spirit in which GERES plans to start out on the road to Climate Solidarity.

Climate solidarity, an incentive to implement the energy transition in both North and South

In December 2015, Paris will host the 21st United Nations Climate Conference, a historic turning point for the future of our planet and its inhabitants. The challenge is twofold: to commit the largest possible number of countries, including emerging countries, to binding CO2 emission reduction targets and, via capitalization of the Green Fund, boost the capacity of the most vulnerable countries to cope with climate disruption.

Climate Solidarity means that every move towards the energy transition in the North must be matched by support for low-carbon development projects in the South. This fairness is non-negotiable for the developing countries which are paying for the emissions built up in the atmosphere since way back in 1850.

GERES has been fighting on several fronts for almost 40 years: developing renewable energies and energy-efficient solutions for homes and cooking, building the capacity of NGOs and local public authorities, helping with energy-saving and promoting ethical, solidarity-based carbon finance. The final goal of each of these activities is to improve the living conditions of fragile communities. Paris Climate 2015 needs to be a people’s success so that the faces of solidarity replace the shadows of inequality when it comes to combating climate change.

Bringing Climate Solidarity at the 2015 summit !

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