Thousands of Christians have united to encourage the UK Government to invest more money in renewable energy in developing countries, as world leaders meet to discuss how to turn the Paris Agreement on climate change into concrete action.
Currently one in seven people around the world have no access to electricity. In Africa those who do have access pay 80 times more for energy than people living in the UK – meaning they have to resort to using kerosene lamps, which are expensive, dangerous, polluting and cause breathing difficulties.
A petition started by international relief and development charity Tearfund, as part of the global Renew Our World campaign, has attracted almost 5,000 signatures. Supporters gathered outside the Department for International Development (DFID) to draw attention to the petition.
They are calling on the UK Government to rebalance energy spending in Africa and Asia away from fossil fuels and scale up investments to bring off-grid renewable energy like solar to people living in poverty in rural areas, which would allow children to study in the evening and doctors to store medication in fridges.
For everyone to have energy by 2030, almost three-quarters of energy spending globally needs to go on off-grid renewables. But currently, only 1% of spending on electricity goes on off-grid renewables.
Dr Ruth Valerio, Tearfund’s Global Advocacy and Influencing Director, said: “Having electricity is a key part of helping people in poverty unlock their God given potential. Renewable energy would let women give birth safely at night, children study in the evening and make streets and pathways safer.
“Too many people in our world still live in the dark – one in seven still don’t have any electricity. We have an opportunity to put that right, and do it in a way that provides jobs and clean air rather than polluting the world.
“Local, renewable energy like solar panels is the quickest, and cheapest, way to give access to electricity to people in poverty, without contributing to climate change.
“We know UK Aid is already doing great work helping people in poverty and directing more support to local renewable energy could improve the lives of millions more in Africa and Asia.”
Student Lindsay Paterson, supports Tearfund’s campaign and said: “I’m so aware of how important safety, education and access to healthcare are in terms of a community being able to lift themselves out of poverty, and access to electricity can do so much in those areas.
“But at the same time fossil-fuelled energy and the climate change it causes can trap people in poverty. Investing in renewable energy is a great solution.”