Lighting the Way: Toward a Sustainable Energy Future

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  • 4.6 Summary points

    Governments around the world must act now to initiate a transition to sustainable energy systems.

      Though specific policy choices must take into account each country’s unique circumstances, efforts to introduce a market signal for reducing carbon emissions, promote investments in improved energy efficiency, and reduce or eliminate distorting subsidies (especially for fossil fuel consumption), must be broadly undertaken. Science and technology have an indispensable role to play in improving the sustainable energy options that are available today and in developing new options for tomorrow. Given the scale and urgency of the challenge at hand, public and private-sector investments in energy technology RD&D must be substantially increased (to at least a doubling of current levels, if not more) and consistently maintained over the next several decades. Putting necessary efforts into R&D does not provide an acceptable reason to postpone strong action now to make use of already existing technologies and to correct existing distortions in the energy market place.
      Extending access to modern forms of energy for billions of the world’s poorest citizens is necessary to meet basic human needs (clean cooking fuels and clean water) and to achieve broader development goals (nighttime lighting, communication, economic opportunity). More broadly, advancing sustainability objectives in developing countries will require policies and technologies that reflect the particular needs and opportunities of those countries, along with an increased commitment on the part of the S&T community to develop and help deploy effective technology for the rural and urban poor.
      Concerns about affordability, especially in developing countries, should be addressed by developing mechanisms that subsidize consumption only up to a threshold level adequate to serve basic needs.



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