According to a report from the UN initiative Sustainable Energy for All, more than a billion people on earth live without access to electricity. Regions that are particularly affected by this include sub-Saharan countries, which are experiencing rapid population growth. According to estimates by the United Nations, the global population is projected to increase by nearly two billion people by the year 2040. This growth will primarily take place in developing countries. Political leaders, industry, and aid organizations all agree that it is morally imperative and economically necessary to provide access to electricity to all people.
Yet not everyone is aware of the dilemma this poses: What would we face if this segment of the world’s population were to live and consume energy as we do? If roughly half the power requirements were obtained from fossil fuels, not only where we are but also in those areas? At the very least, such a development would endanger the ambitious climate protection goals of the international community and, most of all, put at immediate risk the limitation of global warming to a maximum of two degrees. It is now undisputed that the consumption of fossil energy is directly related to global warming. Anyone who believes that there is no correlation between rising temperatures, especially ocean temperature, and the frequency and intensity of natural disasters is simply denying reality – and one that is increasingly taking place right on our own doorstep, not just in distant, exotic countries.
The transport sector is an example of what this means on a global scale if everyone follows the example of developed industrial countries. Traffic-related emissions today are around 60 percent higher than in 1990, and the main reason for this can be found in the drastic increase in the number of vehicles in developing and emerging countries. In China alone, the number of vehicles has more than quadrupled to roughly 200 million within the last decade.