The Cost of Energy Poverty

Collegians COP 16 1

CFACT Collegians protest the UN in advocacy against energy poverty.

Sitting, listening to the ocean in Cancun, Mexico, one realizes how truly fortunate we are. As students, we are here, representing CFACT at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference. It is a bit ironic then, that we are writing this in the sun, by the pool, at a Hotel, with the purpose of bringing light to the issue of Energy Poverty.

The irony continues…here we sit in one of the touristy places in the country of Mexico, while less than 50 miles away are some of the very people we are talking about.  Even in Mexico, there are people living without basic electricity. While those people are going about their daily lives, trying to make enough money to support their families. According to the World Economic Forum, an estimated 3 billion people worldwide are living without sustainable or affordable energy, yet Delegates at the UNFCCC debate energy treaties that would place such necessities as electricity out of reach.

It is not, however, just those people in developing countries who would be effected by such measures that are being proposed, but also those in nations like the United States. The documentary, It’s not Evil, Just Wrong, introduces some of the average, hard working American’s who would be extremely impacted in the most negative way by a shut down, or cut back, in the coal industry. There are many families in the United States barely making ends meat with energy costs as high as they are currently and many families would go belly-up if those costs were increased, as they will be if the UNFCCC delegates get their way. There may be room to tighten the belt in the Gore family, as they live in their Nashville mansion and Al flies around on his private jet, but most Americans are barely breathing with how tight their finances have become in the past few years.

When Lord Christopher Monckton came in and talked to us the first day and we discussed energy poverty he mentioned how the cost of energy has almost doubled in the last couple of years. There was a big report that came out that said “Global Warming” was going to kill 21,000 people because the earth was getting to be too hot. However, in a cold snap that recently happened in England, 21,000 people died because they didn’t have enough money to pay for heat. That in itself is a huge problem; people shouldn’t be dying because the cost of energy is so high that they cant afford it. The loss of 21,000 in a decade due to global warming is tragic, but the loss of 21,000 people in a three month period is completely unacceptable.

The faces of Energy Poverty can be seen around the world in both developed and developing nations, and we cannot afford the cost of higher energy bills. The cost will not be solely monetary, but human.

Collegians handed out ribbons that said, "End Energy Poverty Now!"

Collegians hand out ribbons inside the conference.

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About the Author: Christina Norman

Christina Norman

Christina Norman currently serves as Director of Development for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. Christina graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2008 where she obtained her B.A. in Political Science. In college, Christina was the President of her CFACT Collegians chapter. Following college she worked for CFACT as a field director for our Collegians program and as a Development Officer. She graduated in 2010 from the Koch Associate Program. She currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter.