At the AIPN 2019 International Petroleum Summit in Houston on May 23, 2019, Scott Tinker gave the 2019 Boulos Lecture Series on the theme of Poverty, Carbon and the Role of Natural Gas. Scott talked about two kinds of energy poverty: access to energy and the use of primitive fuels for cooking. These are two tangible areas that are addressable and have major negative impacts on the people who are living that way, as well as for the rest of the world.
Scott explained that the trends for access to electricity are improving. Nonetheless there are still a billion people with no electricity or minimal electricity. This figure includes what is called “under the grid” where there is access to electricity, but the people cannot afford it. A little less than one seventh of the world live in electricity poverty. He also discussed the 2.7 billion people cooking with wood, coal and dung, and the negative ramifications of that.
Dr. Tinker believes that energy poverty is surmountable, especially if policymakers work in what he calls the “radical middle”. It is a practical approach that Scott started espousing close to a decade ago. In his thinking, it joins the dots between energy, the economy, and the environment. The ultimate goal should be addressing poverty, keeping the economy healthy, and managing the energy mix to accomplish environmental goals, including climate, local air emissions, land use and water.
Scott discussed SEA’s upcoming film, Switch On, which will look at that third of the world with little energy, and the resulting ramifications. Those ramifications are more than just clothing, food, and shelter. Consider education, made possible by energy. Education helps lower birth rates. Access to energy begins to address the rights and freedom of women. Women are more disadvantaged in energy poverty situations than men because women are doing much of the work. Pulling people out of energy poverty also helps with migration and immigration. When a country obtains energy, it starts to build the economy, creating education and jobs, and an environment in which people don't feel like they have to leave. Countries with accessible and affordable energy are also less susceptible to the kind of oppressive and corrupt leadership that can come in impoverished countries.
Scott sees an important role for natural gas globally. Natural gas is abundant, affordable, extremely versatile (power generation, manufacturing, heating, cooking, transportation, products) and much cleaner than oil and coal in terms of local air emissions, which have huge negative health effects globally.
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