Energy is necessary for essential services ranging from heating and cooking to transportation, education, and healthcare. Today, an estimated 1.2 billion people around the world lack any access to electricity, and another 2.7 billion rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking. Pollution from traditional sources such as biomass not only contributes to global warming but also causes respiratory diseases that kill over 3.5 million people each year, more than double the annual deaths attributed to malaria.
Addressing global poverty requires taking steps to address energy poverty, but the best model for doing so is widely debated. Is centralized distribution the best way forward, or should energy projects focus on distributed generation? Can large-scale deployment of wind turbines and solar panels meet the needs of rural communities in the developing world? What role should nuclear power and fossil fuels play in expanding grid access?
On May 24, the Energy Security and Climate Initiative (ESCI) at Brookings hosted a debate on solutions to increase energy access between Daniel Kammen, Class of 1935 distinguished professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley, and Ted Nordhaus, co-founder and research director of the Breakthrough Institute. ClimateWire Editor Lisa Friedman moderated the discussion and audience Q&A.