Access to energy, to climate change and poverty are inter-linked. Energy is essential to both production and sustaining life. The current development paradigm characterized by overproduction and consumption without regard for the earth’s capacity is incompatible with long-term solutions needed to save the economy and our planet. And there is need to address the huge challenge posed by the reality that 1.3 billion people worldwide do not have access to energy services and 2.7 billion people still rely on traditional use of biomass for cooking, while the rich in Asia and in Europe waste energy. The struggle over who controls the sector and for what purposes is intensifying, as seen in the debate in the plenary on energy.
EU energy policy and its financing mechanisms are external dimensions affecting Asia, as they reproduce existing forms of inequality and generate more social problems. EU has started a new aggressive push to gain more power for its companies to increase their competitiveness at the expense of environment and human rights. On the other hand, developing Asian countries are over-projecting their peak demand forecast way beyond actual consumption to justify the need to import energy or have unnecessary energy development projects instead of giving priorities to energy efficiency measures.
Economic development and nature are not irreconcilable. The choice should not just be between nuclear or dirty coal. In Asia and Europe, the number of groups and movements against nuclear energy has been increasing after the Fukushima accident. The vast potential for renewable energy from solar and wind sources as well as from small and mini hydropower plants must be explored. Experiences of countries that successfully produced renewables despite relatively limited natural resources, like in the case of Germany, should inspire energy development planners in Asia where natural resources are more abundant. It is also possible to have sustainable energy development coming from independent initiatives of people and their communities to fulfil the need for poverty eradication instead of big projects whose purpose is producing energy for export. In many developing countries, marginalized sectors like fisheries and agriculture, as well as the social and cultural dimensions of life, are sacrificed in the process of generating energy.
Access to energy is a fundamental right and not a privilege. People must have a say in energy governance. Justice and social transformation are key elements for an even energy distribution between countries and within societies.
1) The EU countries should reduce energy consumption radically to fulfil their responsibility to reduce climate change, pay ecological debt to poor countries and realize fair sharing of development space between rich and developing countries.
2) Shift the system of production and consumption currently oriented towards continuous expansion and appropriation of nature to a more sustainable and environment-friendly one, which fulfills the needs of people and not corporations.
3) Governments should ensure a political environment where people can confidently participate and discuss their ideas for alternative energy policies and create participative process of energy development and production.
4) Feed-in tariffs, access to grid, low cost financing and tax incentives for decentralized renewable energy production must be put in place to realize renewables as just and more transformative solutions to energy poverty in developing countries and as measures for energy efficiency in rich countries.
5) Decommission existing nuclear power stations and stop the development of planned power plants.
For sustainable energy production and use we need a new energy politics.