The fossil fuel based economy has left 1.2 billion people without access to modern energy. Those most vulnerable, the old, the very young and women, also bear the brunt of air pollution from power plants and indoor cook stoves. We have a responsibility to citizens and businesses to limit their exposure to climate risk to protect and support our future prosperity. The pursuit of carbon neutrality in the transition to a clean economy will safeguard communities from the worst impacts of climate change and maintain the stability we need for our economies to thrive. As a global community we have taken great steps towards poverty eradication, but if we cannot keep below 1.5ºC maximum temperature rise many will slip back below the poverty line.
Getting on track to zero is a solutions framework for resolving energy poverty, as well as reducing the costs and health burdens of dirty energy, which currently fall disproportionately on the poor. Addressing the concept of fairness requires a range of solutions, economic, technological and otherwise. To provide a just development frame for the poor, 21st century thinking is required.
Putting a price on carbon, removing fossil fuel subsidies and creating decentralised, clean energy systems will promote climate justice. These actions will help avoid climate impacts and generate equitable solutions that allow the poor access to clean energy rather than forcing them – and all generations ahead – into an unsustainable future of dirty fossil fuels.