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Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 10 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to develop environmentally sustainable, cost-effective energy sources for use in the developing world. (110367)

Improved access to reliable and affordable energy supplies and services is essential for the achievement of international development goals. The poorest countries and regions of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, have the least access to electricity and to sustainable clean fuels for cooking and heating.

DFID has been actively engaged with the EU Energy Initiative for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development (EUEI) since it was launched in 2002. This has the primary aim of improving access to affordable and sustainable energy services to the poor. Alongside five other European Union member states, DFID is providing grant funds to an EUEI technical assistance programme, which is helping developing countries and regional organisations in Africa to prepare energy policies. In addition, DFID supported the launch in 2006 of a €220 million EU Energy Facility, funded from the 9th European Development Fund, to improve access to energy in rural areas, mainly in Africa.

DFID contributes to the Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP), which is managed by the World Bank on behalf of the donors. The goal of the programme is to provide energy solutions to reduce poverty, through improved access to sustainable energy services. New policies and plans for the greater use of renewable energy and improved energy efficiency in developing countries are significant aspects of the programme.

DFID is also working closely with the World Bank and the regional development banks on a new Investment Framework for Clean Energy and Development. The World Bank and other International Finance Institutions have approved or are developing their Investment Frameworks and these will be implemented in 2007. These new frameworks include measures to help countries move towards lower carbon energy sources, to reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, to adapt to the effects of climate change and to access new carbon credit financing. The World Bank has accepted an offer from DFID of a technical assistance grant to help them implement actions on climate change and clean energy and we are in discussion with the other IFIs on similar support.

DFID is launching in 2007 a new five-year Energy Research Programme to improve access to energy supplies and services in support of development. This is expected to include the application of renewable energy and other sustainable technologies. This new research programme will build on earlier DFID funded work on renewable energy technologies.