Energy supply – improving living conditions and production processes

A woman standing beside a lamp that illuminates a table.
Access to electricity makes cooking and heating easier for poor sections of the population. © Fondation Antenna Technologies

Secure and affordable energy supply improves people’s living conditions as well as production processes, both of which are vital to sustainable development, poverty reduction and climate protection. The SDC’s Global Programme Climate Change promotes access to clean and renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean air. 

SDC activities

Social and economic development without access to clean, efficient and renewable energy and to clean air is virtually impossible. Better living conditions are dependent upon these factors, among others. The Global Programme Climate Change focuses on three areas of activity:

  1. Access to clean and renewable energy
  2. Promotion of energy efficiency
  3. Contribution to clean air 

Widespread access to modern and renewable energy boosts the economy and helps people to cope better with the consequences of climate change. In India, for example, the Global Programme Climate Change promotes innovative technologies to ensure the energy needs of the population in rural areas are met. At global level, the SDC supports “Energising Development” (EnDev), a partnership between several countries that provides poor families with access to electricity and heat supply. This makes cooking easier and heating possible which in turn has a positive impact on human health and the environment as deforestation is reduced.

Switzerland has extensive experience of energy efficiency and the relevant technology and science. The SDC is therefore helping small and medium-sized companies through the Global Programme Climate Change, for example with the energy-efficient production of bricks and other construction materials. Such knowledge transfer enables energy to be saved and greenhouse gas emissions to be cut – especially in emerging economies.

The SDC promotes multilateral platforms and projects geared towards efficient and clean technologies. In Latin America, for example, the SDC supports the introduction of clean diesel engines in urban buses. It is also campaigning for legislation containing measures for clean air.

With its three complementary areas of activity, the SDC is making a contribution to raising awareness of and gearing efforts towards energy sustainability in developing countries and emerging economies. The well-conceived management of natural resources and lower dependence upon fossil fuels help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and related conflicts.

Background

Around 1.6 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity and over 2.5 billion still rely solely on biomass, primarily wood, for cooking and heating.

A lack of access to modern forms of energy prevents development and has an adverse effect on health. Flue gases in open fireplaces are a case in point. Fluctuating energy prices and dependence on fossil fuels represent further risks, particularly for poor and vulnerable sections of the population. 

Around two-thirds of global CO2 emissions are produced by energy consumption. The growing demand for energy, in particular in developing countries and emerging economies, as well as high levels of coal consumption, are causing CO2 emissions to rise. This underlines the fact that energy supply, the fight against poverty and alleviating the effects of climate change are closely interlinked. The associated challenges must be tackled comprehensively.

Current challenges

Energy is crucial to sustainable development in many respects. Access to affordable energy is a key requirement for improved production in agriculture and industry and therefore also plays a vital role in reducing hunger and poverty.

Clean energy contributes to better management of all resources as, for example, fewer forests are cut down and water cycles are maintained. Achieving development targets also means finding solutions to energy issues. Providing poor sections of the population with better access to energy services and ensuring they are eco-friendly and efficient are challenges for development cooperation.