Powering past oil and gas: Energy choices for just and sustainable development

This paper examines the evidence on the relationship between oil, gas and poverty, as well as key considerations in supporting energy pathways to transition to low-carbon development.

Climate change is already pushing poor and marginalised communities further into poverty, and continued production and consumption of oil and gas will intensify these impacts, putting the Sustainable Development Goals at risk.

If the growing demand for electricity in middle- and low-income countries is met using polluting energy sources, it will not be possible to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C and meet the Paris Climate Agreement.

To achieve universal access to electricity at a household level, over two-thirds of investment should be in decentralised renewable energy solutions as the ‘least-cost’ options.

For access to clean cooking, fossil fuel solutions such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas can be important options over the next decade in some contexts, along with improved cookstoves, but the transition to cooking with clean electricity and renewables has begun in many parts of the world and requires greater investment.

For large-scale power generation, renewables are now the cheapest source for two-thirds of the global population, due to the significant cost reductions in large-scale wind- and solar PV-power generation over the last decade.

Oil and gas production does not necessarily lead to sustainable economic and social development in producer countries and in some cases strongly undermines it.

New gas infrastructure is in most cases more expensive than providing power generation using renewable energy. Grid reliability can be provided by interconnection with other grids or dispatchable renewable power such as hydro or geothermal combined with energy storage solutions.

Employment in the renewable energy sector is increasing, providing job creation which will be important for Covid-19 recovery. Worldwide, 42 million people could be employed in the sector by 2050.

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