Authors: Brandon Wu (ActionAid USA), Dr. Anne Schiffer (Friends of the Earth Scotland), Bridget Burns (Women's Environment & Development Organization)

Published September, 2016


The world is in the grips of a climate crisis driven by greenhouse gas emissions, of which the largest single source is the energy sector. Any successful global effort to mitigate climate change will require a drastic reduction in energy sector emissions, which can be achieved by a shift to renewable energy sources and a reduction in energy consumption. Environmental and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and activists have been pushing for such policies for decades. However, while a shift to renewable energy must happen across the board, it is critical that in undertaking such a transformation, global inequities in energy consumption are taken into account.


While most people in developed countries – in particular the United States – consume large and arguably excessive amounts of energy on a daily basis, many people in poorer countries have the opposite problem: underconsumption of energy. These are people living in energy poverty, without access to sufficient energy for basic needs and services, much less a minimum level of entertainment or luxury that most would consider inherent to a dignified and fulfilling life.

This report examines how we address these two problems in tandem.