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Kicking Away The Energy Ladder

May 5, 2018

By Paul Homewood



An important new paper out from GWPF lays bare the damage being done to the health of people in poorer countries by environmentalists’ obsession with decarbonisation:




Executive summary

Domestic combustion of solid (bio)fuels is by far the number one global pollution problem. 4.3 million deaths annually are directly attributable to indoor air pollution (IAP) according to the World Health Organization. Domestic combustion of solid biofuels kills almost six million people per year when its effects on ambient air quality are also taken into consideration.

The so called ‘energy ladder’ was introduced as away of understanding how deaths from IAP might be prevented. The energy ladder seeks to reproduce the experience of rich countries, where households moved away from biofuels and were increasingly connected to electric grids or district heating systems, solving the IAP problem for good.

However, ever-growing resistance from the environmental movement has removed this beneficial approach from the development agenda. Environmentalists fear that by taking steps upwards on the energy ladder, from dirty solid fuels such as cow dung or crop residues, and towards use of electricity, poor countries would become wealthier and so increase their energy use and their carbon intensity. They have managed to persuade all important multilateral development bodies and the WHO to drop the energy ladder entirely. Instead, they are now coercing the poorest countries to adopt utopian energy policies based on renewables. The result is that combatting IAP in, say, sub-Saharan Africa, is becoming impossible.

Aggressive decarbonization is now high on the political agenda. Contrary to the widely disseminated claims of important global actors, this will not solve the problem of IAP.Moreover, it will hamper the expansion of electric grids, which is a critical prerequisite for delivering adequate water supplies, without which it will be impossible to reproduce the public health miracle experienced in the rich countries.

These ‘ambitious’ global climate mitigation policies leave environmental health problems amongst the poor unaddressed and will result in the loss of over 200 million lives by 2050. They are also unlikely – even in theory – to prevent the 250,000 annual deaths that the WHO speculates will be attributable to climate change between 2030 and 2050: high-quality IPCC-linked research has recently shown that solid biomass combustion actually increases CO2 emissions, at least over the next 100 years, compared to fossil fuels.


The full paper is here.


  1. May 5, 2018 6:25 pm

    Carbon dioxide at atmospheric levels never killed anyone, and never will. Focussing on the wrong target is a serious problem for everyone, but more so for citizens with little or no local electricity supply.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      May 5, 2018 7:52 pm

      Who is focusing on the “wrong” target, oldbrew? Not the environmental lobby, for sure. Their program for the future of places like sub-Saharan Africa is working very nicely.

      200 million deaths among the poor isn’t a bug; it’s a feature. The purpose of the enterprise is to return “civilisation” to some mythical pre-industrial golden age and reduce the global population as well.

      We really do need to pay attention to what these people have actually been saying for the last 40-odd years. Their target is and always has been de-industrialisation and “stopping those third-world countries right where they are” (that from Michael Oppenheimer — I have dozens more on the same lines!)

      • HotScot permalink
        May 5, 2018 10:33 pm


        I would agree with you, but I think the Club of Rome, U.N. etc. Are actually too stupid to know what they’re doing.

        They have a tiger by the tail and haven’t a clue what to do now.

        They’re objectives and philosophies are being overtaken by reality.

        No one excerpts control over reality, no matter how determined they are.

      • markl permalink
        May 6, 2018 1:38 am

        “200 million deaths among the poor isn’t a bug; it’s a feature. ” +1 and it’s blatant. Why the environmentalists can get away with promoting their agenda by saying it’s advantageous to the world’s poor and get away with it without being called on the disinformation is a crime.

      • Russ Wood permalink
        May 6, 2018 1:52 pm

        But – “stopping the Third World countries where they are” has resulted in their Third World populations moving to Europe, where the livin’ is easy…
        I don’t think that’s QUITE what the elites had in mind.

  2. It doesn't add up... permalink
    May 5, 2018 6:46 pm

    This really ought to be common sense. By giving people the prospect of improving lifestyles in their homelands, you also take the pressure off migration and strife and wars among those with narrow access to resources.

    • May 5, 2018 9:55 pm

      Common sense is a very rare commodity in eco-loon circles – more common than honesty though….

      • 2hmp permalink
        May 6, 2018 6:47 am

        Common sense is very rare – full stop.

  3. A C Osborn permalink
    May 5, 2018 6:53 pm

    They just don’t care.

  4. Vanessa permalink
    May 5, 2018 8:05 pm

    This was one of the most powerful arguments for coal, oil, etc. in the Channel 4 film “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. The end shows an African woman burning wood etc. in her tiny house which will eventually kill her. Thanks AL GORE – YOU MORON.

  5. Bitter@twisted permalink
    May 5, 2018 10:12 pm

    Bet you won’t see the GWPF article on the BBC, or in The Gruanaird.

    • HotScot permalink
      May 5, 2018 10:40 pm


      Thankfully not. It takes people with inquiring minds to seek the truth. Not many of those watching the BBC, nor reading thr graun.

  6. paul weldon permalink
    May 6, 2018 6:43 am

    What the author writes makes sense, except there are two facts that are omitted which completely undermine his answer to alleviating the problem of household pollution.
    1. Alternatives need to be purchased by these very poor people. That costs money which they do not have. I cannot imagine electricity being provided free of charge. Nor is there an infra-structure to take the electricity to rural areas. Even the alternative of using bottled gas for cooking comes at a cost.
    2. The relief of poverty means providing work which entails some form of production and therefore an increase in energy consumption. Alleviating poverty is therefore in direct conflict with reducing CO2 emissions.
    I sometimes think that both do-gooders and academics should send a couple of years under the same conditions as those they are trying to help writing about. Perhaps then they would understand the practicalities of the issues better.

    • Up2snuff permalink
      May 6, 2018 6:41 pm

      Paul W, I would have thought that simple government initiatives at a state or county level could easily improve the ‘cooking with wood’ situation. Chimney design and, if necessary, fabrication of metal cowls need be neither difficult or expensive and, thus, the circumstance illustrated in the heading photograph avoided in every home.

      • paul weldon permalink
        May 7, 2018 6:26 am

        My experience of Africa is that in rural areas cooking is done outside in the family ‘compound” so there is no problem. For you and I the answer is simple – for us a small outlay or a government initiative funded from our taxes. But we are thinking like western people with a western government. When the family income does not even cover necessities and the government has no funding available then our views are irrelevant. Basic economics, nothing to do with environmental/ energy politics.

  7. Donald Bruce permalink
    May 6, 2018 12:26 pm

    On the road to reducing the fossil fuel usage. The Environmental experts will get some things wrong. Ignoring the Co2 problem the world will require oil to produce plastics and fertiliser far into the future. As we have past the peak oil world supply The oil should now be used thoughtfully not for electricity or burnt for transport. Growing biocrops where food was ones harvest while people in this world starve is stupid.

    • May 6, 2018 2:39 pm

      “Ignoring the CO2 problem” ?

      That kind of depends if one can actually define the problem …. I’m constantly drawn back to the highly inconvenient observations (for the consensus alarmists) from the most accurate CO2 survey instrument yet deployed by mankind – The Orbiting Carbon Observatory.

      Lauded to the heavens pre and immediately post launch – but when it started to provide data that didn’t accord with the proffered tale of human induced CO2 rise – it is roundly ignored.

      The inability of the alarmists to accept data that they don’t like in an honest fashion is a running sore.

      • dave permalink
        May 8, 2018 7:43 am

        “…it is roundly ignored…”

        I do not think it has provided any startling data.

        Perhaps it has been ignored simply because the facts about CO2 fluxes make it clear that there is nothing that can be done to significantly slow the rise in concentration*; and, therefore, that initiatives like the Paris Accord – if taken seriously, and not just as a Puritanical gesture – are entirely ridiculous – a means to nothing, and a road to nowhere.

        *Merely to roll-back the INCREASE of 2017, the whole human race would have to hibernate through 2018 and 2019.

    • Up2snuff permalink
      May 6, 2018 6:49 pm

      Donald, passed world peak oil? When? The way things are going, we are unlikely ever to reach it!

      I suspect we will wake up one day and find there is a crisis because the oil companies are no longer prepared to extract oil that is difficult to access and suddenly fertilisers, cleaning products and pharmaceuticals that are essential to modern life are likely to be in very short supply.

    • Up2snuff permalink
      May 7, 2018 8:22 pm

      Paul W, even in Africa there is a resourcefulness that goes beyond governments extracting cash from taxpayers, oven, sandals from car tyres, etc.. India is a more high tech country but introducing cowling that can be created from the ubiquitous cooking oil tin ought to be possible there, even everywhere, even in the poorest parts of Indonesia, where believe it or not it is the cold that kills when twig & branch fires are lit for warmth but a lack of a chimney means the smoke can fill the accommodation.

      • paul weldon permalink
        May 8, 2018 6:44 am

        We heat with wood so are aware of the situation when the system is not functioning properly. It is not possible to stay in a room where there is an open fire and no ventilation so I wonder how you arrive at your last sentence. I am also well aware of the inventiveness/ improvisation that the poor will achieve to survive. So why have they not done this when you say it is so simple? My fault for being side-tracked, but my main issue with the article is that even if ”cheap” electricity were somehow made available, the poor would not be able to afford it, nor would it make them any richer. I also doubt very much whether it could be made available in rural areas as the cost of infrastructure would be too great. As far as cooking goes, here in rural Latvia it is popular to use bottled propane which is cheaper than using electricity. But of course the really poor in third world countries would not be able to afford the cost. My apologies for being contrary.

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