Lack of modern fuels contributes to 1.6 million deaths a year, UN report says

Lack of modern fuels contributes to 1.6 million deaths a year, UN report says

Some 1.6 million people die per year because more than 2 billion people in developing countries lack the modern fuels and electricity that help prevent indoor air pollution and its negative health effects, a new United Nations report says.

The report from UN-Energy, an interagency body established to coordinate the system's multi-disciplinary response to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), is called "The Energy Challenge for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals."

In working out their national strategies to meet the anti-poverty and other targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), too many countries were ignoring the fact that access to energy is an essential component of poverty reduction and national development, it cautions.

Based on estimates by the International Energy Agency, the report says $9.6 trillion in investment will be required from 2001 to 2030 to meet the growing demands of developing countries and countries in transition. Public sector resources were a vital investment in energy service delivery for the poor "due to the private sector's limited appetite for risk in emerging markets," the report adds.

The lack of modern fuels and electricity in most developing countries entrenches poverty, constrains the delivery of social services, limits opportunities for the women who must spend time using it, and erodes environmental sustainability, it says.

Reforms of the energy sector should protect the poor, especially the 1.3 billion people who live on less than $1 per day, and should recognize that most of the poor are women, it says.