Addressing poverty is a daunting task. Firstly there are a number of reasons why poverty exists. These include environmental factors, lack of access to natural resources like fresh water, hunger, social inequality, lack of education, lack of access to healthcare and lack of employment opportunities.
I believe that there are a few fundamental things that, if addressed, will improve the lives of many of those living in poverty. These key factors include education, healthcare, food and shelter.
One of the other forms of poverty is energy poverty. What this term refers to is the lack of access to energy which results in the use of kerosene and other forms of fuel which have health impacts on those that use it.
The World Economic Forum states that “Access to energy is fundamental to improving quality of life and is a key imperative for economic development. In the developing world, energy poverty is still rife. Nearly 1.6 billion people still have no access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).”
This is something that I experienced first-hand when I visited India in 2004. So many hours of the day were spent without electricity. Many businesses would have to operate their own diesel generators which have their own environmental problems, such as air pollution.
There is one organisation though that is aiming to change that: Pollinate Energy (http://pollinateenergy.org/about/). I first heard of Pollinate Energy through one of its founders who is a friend of a friend! She is one of the founders of this organisation which is aiming to end energy poverty in India through locally manufactured and affordable clean energy solutions. Their current program is to provide solar lights in homes thereby eliminating the use of Kerosene. We all take for granted that we can switch on a light and are able to see and work and operate. Many people do not have this luxury and these are the people that Pollinate Energy want to help.
What I love about this initiative is that they are working with employing people from the local community and providing them a business opportunity to sell these solar lights to households in their community. They are therefore addressing a number of things that lead to poverty: employment, energy and health.
I also love that they want to share their passion and knowledge with other like-minded people through their Young Professionals Program. The Young Professional Program is aiming to foster future leaders through a two week program based in Bangalore, India.
If you would like to know more and to participate in the Young Professional Program, please go to: http://pollinateenergy.org/our-programs/ypp/ and sign up! Entries close 25 June.
I recently went back to the UAE and Iran to visit family and friends. It was a great trip. My son got to hang out with his ‘best friend Jack’. These two munchkins were inseparable and I know that my son found it difficult being separated from Jack. When they saw each other again, it was not like they had been separated for over a year.
While the trip was relaxing, I did wander about my carbon emissions from the flights.In the past I had purchased carbon credits to ‘neutralise’ my emissions. What are carbon credits?
As part of global efforts to address the greenhouse effect or climate change, a mechanism has been developed called the Clean Development Mechanism with the aim of trading carbon between countries. The way it works is that a country is given an amount of carbon that they are allowed to emit (their quota). The Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protcol allows developed (Annex 1) countries to exceed their CO2 quota by investing in projects that help the developing countries and also result in a reduction in carbon emissions. So how does this relate to my holiday?
As Carbon dioxide emissions are released through the aviation sector (the aviation industry is said to account for 1.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions ), reductions are important. Some airlines provide the opportunity for travellers to offset their carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits (Eg Japanese Airlines, Virgin, Scandanavian Airlines), while other don’t.
I flew with Etihad who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Masdar (big carbon ‘neutral’ project in the UAE. For more information on Masdar, go to: http://www.masdar.ae ). However I had decided to offset the emissions from my travel with my family. Using an on-line calculator I have estimated that for my return flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi and from Dubai to Esfahan that we emitted 5.5 tonnes of CO2.! (to calculate your carbon emissions, go to: http://www.carbonneutral.com.au/carbon-calculator.html ) Who offers carbon offsets?
There are a range of companies that offer certified carbon offsets and that is the key word ‘certified’. It’s important to buy from a trusted company with third party independent verification of their projects and their claims.
There are various ways that carbon offsets are ‘produced’:
• Renewable energy projects;
• Energy efficiency projects;
• Reforestation; and
• Preservation of forests (that is paying to prevent forestry).
As an individual, there may be different criteria that you have personally for how you want your money invested. For me I am interested in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Of the renewable energy options I prefer solar and wind and do not want to support hydro projects.
For this trip, after much much research, I have selected a project on improved cooking methods in South Africa from Fair Climate Fund (http://www.fairclimatefund.nl/en/projecten/). This project provides stoves to families which they can use for their cooking. It improves their health and reduces their carbon emissions as compared the stoves they previously used. By purchasing to offset 6 tonnes of CO2 from my trip I can now say that I travelled neutrally and to top it off, it didn’t really cost too much at all (about $AUD70)! Lessons Learnt
After navigating the world web for hours, I have come to realize that it is quite hard to find the information that may help others make a similar decision. The Australian websites seemed to be very much geared towards corporate companies, rather than individuals. The language was technical and the links not intuitive.
Overall, it was quite hard. The website that I found the least cumbersome was this: