Wednesday, December 8, 2010                                                          (+521) 998 225 9854

(Cancun, Mexico) Few things divide rich from poor like access to affordable energy.  In this 21st century it has been estimated that 1.4 billion people lack access to electricity while 3 billion people cook with solid fuel.  On Wednesday, December 8, CFACT transported COP16 delegates, press and observers to the Mexican village of La Libertad, where people cook, heat and live without electricity.  La Libertad presents a compelling picture of the plight of the energy poor.

“As COP16 considers the future of the world’s energy policy, it is vital that the voices of those suffering energy poverty are heard,” said CFACT President David Rothbard.

“Today’s visit was both sobering and inspiring,” Rothbard said.  “We and our guests saw the harsh realities of what life is like without basic necessities, such as electricity, which we take for granted.  Yet among the people of La Libertad we saw remarkable joyfulness and hope in the midst of poverty – especially among the many school children – this humbled us.  CFACT believes these children deserve every opportunity that our children enjoy, including affordable, abundant electricity and all the benefits that brings.  We must not set energy policy in a vacuum and create obstacles to the progress of countless communities like La Libertad.”

Access to affordable energy has led to a cleaner, greener environment and a rebound of natural habitats and wildlife throughout the developed world.  Efficient agriculture and distribution, both of which require abundant energy, permit developed nations to devote less land to food production, while minimizing the need to forage for wood for cooking and heating.

Billions know a different reality.  Energy poverty means a life without the nutrition, health care, refrigeration, jobs, information and education the rest of us take for granted.  Without electricity, foraging for food and fuel leads to deforestation and pressures wildlife, while an estimated 1-2 million people die every year from respiratory diseases linked to the burning of wood, charcoal, dung and other solid fuels.

CFACT has worked for years with impoverished people around the world including Valle Verde and other villages in the Yucatan peninsula and witnessed the consequences of energy poverty first hand.

“Global warming campaigners are here in Cancun proposing treaty provisions that would frustrate recovery for developed economies while doing nothing to alter the climate,” said Craig Rucker, CFACT’s Executive Director.  “It is vital we also turn our attention to those in the developing world whom too many are callously willing to trap in energy poverty permanently.  Wealthy activists advocating policies that hold the poor down makes for a sorry spectacle indeed.  Payoffs to developing countries to do without efficient energy will benefit elites in those countries while leaving the needy behind.  This is a disaster for both the energy poor and the working people who pay the bills.”

International aid should focus on helping developing nations construct an efficient energy infrastructure including electricity generation and transmission.  Rucker said, “For villages like La Libertad if there is energy, there is hope.”

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  • Christina Norman

    Christina Norman serves as the Director of Development for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. She is also responsible for CFACT’s website building, web maintenance, and graphic design. Christina holds a BA from the University of MN-Duluth and is a graduate of the Koch Associate Program. Christina is passionate about the environment and outdoors, particularly our lakes and rivers in Minnesota. She and her husband live in Lake Elmo, and have 3 beautiful children.