This weekend when I was reading the Toronto Star I turned to the World Weekly and saw the following statistics:
- 550 million people live without electricity in sub-Saharan Africa;
- 1% of Liberians living in cities have access to electricity, 0% of rural Liberians;
- 197,000 Kilowatts represents the total electrical generating capacity of Libera, less than the electricity used to run the stadium in Dallas where the NFL Cowboys play.
In his recent trip to Africa President Obama announced an initiative to develop 10,000 Megawatts of clean energy for six sub-Saharan African states backed by a 5-year, $7 billion investment. But the program falls far short of what is needed to develop a global energy strategy that makes it possible for all of humanity in the 21st century to benefit from technology first developed in the 19th.
According to the CIA Factbook the consumption of electricity per capita is a key differentiator between have and have-not countries. Countries that consume the most correlate with the Developed World. Leading the pack are the Scandinavian states with Iceland number one, Norway second, Finland fifth and Sweden sixth. My country, Canada, abundant in all kinds of energy resources from fossil fuels to hydroelectricity is fourth. And Persian Gulf fossil fuel energy producers Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are third and seventh respectively.
The United States is ninth. Russia is 41st and China is 70th. But it is those at the bottom end that are truly the have nots in the Developing World with the Gaza Strip 214th. African countries dominate the bottom third with, for example, the people of Chad, in Central Africa, consuming a mere 0.07% of the electricity used by an average American.
Today China is the world’s largest energy producer generating 4,604 billion Kilowatt hours per year. The United States is second generating 3.953 billion Kilowatt hours. But lowly Chad like so many of its African neighbors barely registers as an energy producer. Neither do other Developing World nations like those in the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and many states in Asia, South and Central America. And there is a correlation between this lack of energy production and per capita income with a distinct similarity in pattern between energy haves and income haves.
If we are to see the Developed and Developing World reach a healthy accommodation then technology and capital resources need to be applied to addressing this enormous energy disparity. That is why I have suggested in the title of this posting the development of a global energy declaration of rights.
The United States, through initiatives like the one described above for energizing sub-Saharan Africa, represents an important first step. But other nations of the Developed World need to come forward to address the disparity.
We have through the auspices of the United Nations and other international bodies developed universal declarations for human rights, for the rights of the child, for the environment, for indigenous people, and for forests and wildlife. So isn’t it about time that we created one for energy?
What should it embody? Here are my suggestions. I am sure you may have your own thoughts on what such a doctrine should contain and welcome your ideas.
World Energy Declaration of Rights.
- Humans everywhere on the planet shall have access to clean, renewable energy in sufficient quantity to allow them to lead healthy and productive lives.
- That all energy production on the planet shall be focused on achieving sustainable levels of development for individual nations with the elimination of poverty for its citizens.
- That all nations shall cooperate in the developing and sharing of energy resources to achieve the first two tenets in the charter.
- That those nations least developed shall be given special priority in the creation of renewable and sustainable energy that meets a globally determined standard of kilowatt hours per capita.
- That nations with surpluses in energy shall cooperate with those with insufficient energy capacity to develop a means of energy sharing to reduce disparities.
- That all new energy production shall be in harmony with the goals of creating a sustainable planet so that no energy source becomes a net carbon emitter.
- That all new energy production shall respect the environment to ensure no harm comes to indigenous peoples and biodiversity.