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Clean energy comes from renewable sources – i.e. those that are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal – as well as gains from improving efficiency of energy use. Skoll’s approach to clean energy is two-fold – increasing access to clean energy solutions; and influencing others to adopt and fund clean energy over fossil fuels.

Size/Magnitude of Problem

Access to reliable, affordable, and ideally clean energy for households and businesses enhances income-generating activities 1 and supports provision of basic services such as health care and education. Pollution from inefficient cooking, lighting, and heating devices kills 4.3 million people a year i and causes a range of chronic illnesses and other health impacts. From an environmental perspective, greenhouse gas emissions are important drivers of climate change and local environmental degradation.2

  • 1.1 billion people do not have access to electricity ii with more than 95% of those living in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia. 1 billion more have only intermittent access.iii
  • In 2010, worldwide emissions from human activities totaled nearly 46 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, representing a 35 percent increase from 1990.iv
Desired Equilibrium

Clean energy will be both reliable and affordable for all people, allowing them to improve their livelihoods, health, and education levels. Use of “dirty” energy will be reduced to zero or near-zero levels, which in turn will decrease greenhouse gas emissions and assuage climate change trends. Energy will come from sustainable sources that will not contribute to environmental degradation.

Ways Skoll social entrepreneurs are addressing the issue:
  • Influencing corporate actors to responsibly manage energy use in their supply chains (B Lab, Ceres, Health Care Without Harm)
  • Empowering local communities to adopt clean energy solutions (Barefoot College, BioRegional Development Group, Proximity Designs, World Health Partners)
  • Providing a platform of tools and research to educate adopters of clean energy (ACORE, BioRegional Development Group, Ceres)

i WHO (Household air pollution and health)
ii World Bank (Energy Overview)
iii UN Foundation (Achieving Universal Energy Access)
iv U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (>Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions.)
1 Although varying by context, electrified households have been found to have non-farm incomes up to 50-72% higher than those not electrified. (PRODUSE)
2 If the world maintains the 2°C temperature increase limit targeted by global leaders, new investments in clean energy would contribute to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, and total fuel savings would be an estimated $100 trillion between 2010 and 2050. (IEA)

Critical Geographies
Access to Electricity

As defined by SPI (< 20% of population)
Chad, Burundi, Liberia, Malawi, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Niger, Tanzania, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Papua New Guinea, Uganda

Deaths Attributable to Household Air Pollution

As defined by SPI (≥ 140 deaths per 100,000)
Afghanistan, Madagascar, Guinea-Bissau, Laos, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Burundi

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

As defined by SPI (≤ 1,500 CO2 equivalents per GDP)
Central African Republic, Belize, Gambia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Niger