Access to energy, a bottom-up strategy against Climate Change

Published on Friday, 18 November 2016

Enel reaffirms its commitment to promoting access to energy for the world’s most remote communities, in a side event organised by the Italian Pavilion at COP22, offering a bottom-up perspective of sustainable development.

An effective fight against global warming must involve governments, industries, organisations and the entire population transversely. Among the main results of the Paris climate agreement, established a year ago at the XXI UN Climate Conference (COP21), was also that of having overturned an institutional approach to the problem, directly involving all players in a broader project.

Adopting a concrete approach to the ambitious objectives defined by the agreement to mitigate climate change (keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius), was the central theme of COP22 – the UN conference which ends today in Marrakech, Morocco.

The effects of global warming have a direct impact on communities and people, causing social issues both locally and globally. Therefore, access to energy – the seventh of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals – is particularly important to combat climate change.

“In our opinion, access to energy – the 7th SDG – is the most important of the 17 SDGs, not only because we produce and distribute energy, but because it cuts across all other SDGs linked to sustainable water consumption, the development of territories, education and access to communication”, highlighted Maria Cristina Papetti, Enel’s Head of Sustainability Projects and Practice Sharing, who spoke during the COP22side event, called “Italy and Africa working towards energy access and sustainability: Opportunities, Challenges and Best Practices in achieving SDG7”. The event was organised by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment, in collaboration with Kyoto Club, Enel, Terna, Eni and Enea.

Africa is a continent that fully reflects this issue: it has a seemingly endless energy potential, which has not yet been tapped. At the same time, according to data by the International Energy Agency, over 635 million people throughout the continent still lack access to electricity, leading to a series of negative effects on the population’s health, growth opportunities, access to education and opportunities to overcome poverty.

In order to overcome the “energy divide”, explained Papetti by illustrating the various projects promoted by our Group both in Africa and abroad, “working together with all the players to guarantee access to reliable energy for all and promoting energy efficiency are key to ensuring a sustainable socio-economic development”.

This doesn’t only entail bringing energy to the populations that still lack access, but putting them in the position to use innovative technologies in order to have access to energy with a reduced impact on the environment.

“In order to achieve this – Papetti stated – Enel has included sustainability in its growth strategy, using it as a guiding principle. This means not only constructing our plants in sustainable and innovative ways and bringing energy to the world, but also making it reliable and affordable. It is with this objective in mind that we are constantly searching for innovative technologies in the renewable sector, as well as off-grid solutions, to bring energy to areas of the world that are unlikely to be connected to the electric grid”.

Papetti also spoke about several projects we are involved in to give access to the most remote communities: “Our objective is to train people so that they can acquire the necessary skills to access sustainable energy on their own. Today, through innovation, we can put these technologies in the hands of people, empowering them and strengthening their capabilities”.