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The Center for Science and Technology Policy Research released an issue brief today evaluating World Bank and International Energy Agency metrics of “full energy access.” Various firms and policymakers consult these metrics when setting targets for humanitarian intervention, technology transfer, and foreign direct investment. These WB and IEA 30-year projections of global energy availability and carbon emissions provide a self-fulfilling ”poverty maintenance” prophecy whereby 4 to 5 billion humans living in 2040 are consigned to abject poverty. The minimum threshold for “full energy access” in rural Africa, as codified by the World Bank, is 250 kW/yr, equivalent to three 60 watt light bulbs running at 8 hours per day. The minimum threshold for the urban poor is twice that amount.

The World Bank’s mission statement enshrined in the late 1940s was to eradicate poverty. Applying techniques of calculation that arbitrarily define acceptable levels of energy access to 250 kw/yr does not strike me as an acceptable goal for the year 2043.