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Leapfrogging over development? Promoting rural renewables for climate change mitigation

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  • Zerriffi, Hisham
  • Wilson, Elizabeth

Abstract

Renewable energy technologies have the potential to help solve two pressing problems. On one hand, carbon-free energy sources must play a role in climate change mitigation. On the other hand, renewables might help meet needs of rural people without access to modern energy services. However, if renewables are deployed to combat climate change (primarily resulting from emissions in the developed economies) then providing basic energy services in the developing world may be compromised. The tendency to conflate the two drivers by installing renewables in rural areas for carbon mitigation reasons rather than for development reasons could compromise both goals. The danger is supporting sub-optimal policies for mitigating carbon and for rural energy. This is problematic given the limited funds available for energy development and reducing greenhouse gases. This paper analyzes how these goals have been balanced by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Project documents are used to determine whether incremental costs of installing renewables were covered by GEF funds and whether the costs are comparable with other carbon mitigation options. The results raise concerns about the effectiveness and appropriateness of GEF funding of such projects and highlight the importance of post-Kyoto framework design to reduce emissions and promote development.

Suggested Citation

  • Zerriffi, Hisham & Wilson, Elizabeth, 2010. "Leapfrogging over development? Promoting rural renewables for climate change mitigation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 1689-1700, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:4:p:1689-1700
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Banerjee, Rangan, 2006. "Comparison of options for distributed generation in India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 101-111, January.
    2. Tol, Richard S. J. & Verheyen, Roda, 2004. "State responsibility and compensation for climate change damages--a legal and economic assessment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1109-1130, June.
    3. Howells, Mark & Victor, David G. & Gaunt, Trevor & Elias, Rebecca J. & Alfstad, Thomas, 2006. "Beyond free electricity: The costs of electric cooking in poor households and a market-friendly alternative," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(17), pages 3351-3358, November.
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    5. Gunter Stephan & Georg Müller-Fürstenberger, 2004. "Does Distribution Matter? Efficiency, Equity and Flexibility in Greenhouse Gas Abatement," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 27(1), pages 87-107, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alfaro, Jose & Miller, Shelie, 2014. "Satisfying the rural residential demand in Liberia with decentralized renewable energy schemes," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 903-911.
    2. Szabó, S. & Bódis, K. & Huld, T. & Moner-Girona, M., 2013. "Sustainable energy planning: Leapfrogging the energy poverty gap in Africa," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 500-509.
    3. Williams, Nathaniel J. & Jaramillo, Paulina & Taneja, Jay & Ustun, Taha Selim, 2015. "Enabling private sector investment in microgrid-based rural electrification in developing countries: A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 1268-1281.
    4. Yadoo, Annabel & Cruickshank, Heather, 2012. "The role for low carbon electrification technologies in poverty reduction and climate change strategies: A focus on renewable energy mini-grids with case studies in Nepal, Peru and Kenya," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 591-602.

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