• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Rockefeller Foundation pledges $1bn for greener energy recovery from Covid-19 pandemic

Rajiv Shah

New York-based Rockefeller Foundation has announced that it will commit $1 billion over the next three years to achieve a more inclusive, green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s $1 billion commitment is the largest in its 107-year history, and will primarily focus on expanding access to coronavirus tests and vaccines, as well as investing in distributed green power sources for the more than 800 million people stuck in energy poverty.

“To meet this moment, we must leverage all our resources and relationships to build an equitable, sustainable future, where everyone has the opportunity to realise their full potential and climate disaster is avoided,” said Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation.

“The time to act is right now to make sure vulnerable children and families are included in the pandemic response and recovery,” he said.

Prior to the pandemic, half of the world’s population lacked access to essential health services and more than 800 million people worldwide lacked access to electricity. More people have their potential diminished by unreliable or insufficient energy access, predominantly provided by carbon-emitting fuels.

The energy accessibility gap has further widened because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year alone, more than 100 million people have seen their electricity access severed because they couldn’t pay their bills during the pandemic, with the toll falling disproportionately on the poor and most vulnerable.

“There’s no going back to the past, to before-COVID. We need to reimagine the future we want,” Shah said in a press statement.

The World Bank also estimates that the combined impact of climate change and the damage done by Coronavirus will push 132 million people into poverty.

This calls for bold action to address these disparities and ensure a global response that assures a more inclusive, sustainable future for all, says the Rockefeller Foundation.

The Rockefeller Foundation highlights that over the past decade, it has made ending energy poverty in a clean, sustainable way, a priority around the world by providing reliable electricity to communities that often receive the brunt of climate change is essential to creating the economic opportunity for them to lift themselves out of poverty.

As a result of pioneering breakthroughs in distributed renewable energy technologies, it is now possible to end energy poverty in ten years without accelerating carbon emissions, says the Foundation.

Compared to conventional grid-based electrification, scaling these technologies to provide green energy to half a billion people would save 1.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions over the next decade, according to the Rockefeller Foundation.

Rockefeller Foundation noted that access to energy can also boost the irrigation, crop yields, and productivity of local agriculture as farmers can further protect crop values with cold storage or increase their returns with post-harvest processing.

“Over the past decade, our Smart Power Initiative’s investments have improved the lives of almost 500,000 people in India, Myanmar, and parts of sub-Saharan Africa, so we know this can work,” said Ashvin Dayal, senior Vice-President of the power & climate initiative at the Rockefeller Foundation.

According to Dayal, “By refining the business case for distributed renewable electrification and deepening our technical knowledge of mini grid systems and their impact on people’s lives and livelihoods, we paved the way for the launch of a partnership with Tata Power, TP Renewable Microgrid (TPRMG).”

“This effort is expected to invest $1 billion by 2026, deploying up to 10,000 mini grids that will provide clean energy to 5 million households, create 10,000 new green jobs, support 100,000 rural enterprises, deliver irrigation to 400,000 farmers, and in total, provide access to reliable power for more than 25 million people across the communities they serve,” Dayal noted.

Collaborating with global investors, international organizations, and governments, the Foundation will focus on driving historic public-private investment in infrastructure that accelerates access to clean, safe, and reliable renewable energy across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.