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Developing Countries Need Access To Cheap Fossil Fuels As World Transitions To Greener Energy

“There’s no question that burning fossil fuels is leading to a warmer climate and that addressing this problem is important. But doing so is a question of timing and priority,” Bjorn Lomborg, the director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. “[B]illions of people face a more immediate problem: They are desperately poor, and many cook and heat their homes using open fires or leaky stoves that burn dirty fuels like wood, dung, crop waste and coal,” he states, adding, “About 3.5 million of them die prematurely each year as a result of breathing the polluted air inside their homes — about 200,000 more than the number who die prematurely each year from breathing polluted air outside, according to a study by the [WHO].”

“What those living in energy poverty need are reliable, low-cost fossil fuels, at least until we can make a global transition to a greener energy future,” Lomborg continues, adding, “This is not just about powering stoves and refrigerators to improve billions of lives but about powering agriculture and industry that will improve lives.” He states, “The developed world needs a smarter approach toward cleaner fuels,” adding, “We need to export this technology and help other nations exploit it.” He writes, “At the same time, wealthy Western nations must step up investments into research and development in green energy technologies to ensure that cleaner energy eventually becomes so cheap that everyone will want it,” and he concludes, “But until then they should not stand in the way of poorer nations as they turn to coal and other fossil fuels. This approach will get our priorities right. And perhaps then, people will be able to cook in their own homes without slowly killing themselves” (12/3).