Community-based solar power in Orissa/India (Dipti Vaghela)

Power 4 People

Photo courtesy of Will Martinez/blueEnergy

After several hundred billion dollars have been spent on development aid for the energy sector, an estimated 1.3 billion people remain without access to electricity. These people live in a state of permanent power outage that affects their health, education opportunities and livelihoods.

The energy projects of the World Bank and other international financiers have over the past 60 years focused on large fossil fuel and hydropower plants. Such projects have displaced millions of people, destroyed ecosystems, and fueled climate change. In contrast, energy conservation, energy efficiency and decentralized renewable energy reduce energy poverty, protect the environment, and strengthen climate resilience.

The UN has called for ensuring universal access to electricity and massively expanding renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2030. These solutions are nowadays readily available. In spite of this, multilateral development banks continue to prioritize large, centralized power plants. The World Bank and the European Investment Bank recently approved energy strategies that open the door for more large hydropower and gas projects, and possibly more coal. Such an approach will wreak further environmental havoc and leave the world’s poorest people in the dark.

An international civil society coalition - including International Rivers, Amazon Watch, the International Accountability Project, the Institute for Policy Studies, the Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement and Urgewald - has launched a new effort to shift global energy finance towards clean energy solutions for the poor.

The Power 4 People campaign is part of the global month of action, Reclaim Power and supports the Global Indigenous Peoples' Day of Action on Energy. An international day of action on Power 4 People took place on October 12, 2013. Check out photos from the action on our Flickr site.

Click here to find out how you can join this effort!

More information: 

Foreclosing the Future: The World Bank and the Politics of Environmental Destruction by Bruce Rich, September 2013.

Energy Access for the Poor: The Clean Energy Option. Oil Change International, ActionAid International, and Vasudha Foundation (India), June 2011.

Low Carbon Africa: Leapfrogging to a Green Future, Christian Aid report, November 2011

The World Bank is bringing back big, bad dams, The Guardian, July 16, 2013

World Bank Group Increases Lending for Fossil Fuels and Large Hydro, Oil Change International factsheet, October 2013

Infrastructure for Whom? International Rivers report, May 2012