In this lecture, Professor Sachs discusses those whom he calls the poorest of the poor, a population of around one billion people, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of South Asia who consume very little modern energy and emit very little greenhouse gas emissions, and yet bear a huge amount of the brunt of human induced climate change. Using a satellite image of nighttime electrification, Professor Sachs illustrates that hundreds of millions of people, especially in rural Africa, lack access to electricity and other modern energy services and have the lowest consumption of primary energy per capita in the world. Similarly, just as there is very high energy use per person Canada, the US, and western Europe, those countries have the highest per capita gross domestic product in the world, while in tropical Africa, we see countries where sometime shall the population is living below the line of extreme poverty drawn by the World Bank drawn at $1.25 per day. Access to modern energy is a fundamental necessity for a modern economy, as primary energy us is necessary for basic services such as transportation, clean water and sanitation. In terms of output, Africa’s total output is less than its output when measured in purchasing power adjusted prices. Africa makes up only 3% of the world’s total emissions. It is interesting to look at how Africa’s poverty in terms of income and energy poverty have been part of the long history of the continent, and how the places that have undergone the most rapid modern economic elopement are those that had adequate domestic energy resources, like coal-rich England. Because the lack of coal put Africa in such a weak economic position, it rendered the continent vulnerable to conquest to imperial domination by Europe by the end of the 19th century and continued to be a barrier to development. In order for Africa to develop, it’s going to require an infrastructure of modern energy, that could be renewable or other primary energy sources, not just coal or oil. This video is part of the module Energy and Development.
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