They are big, big questions: How can developing countries transition to low carbon energy systems? Do low carbon futures preclude economic development? Can low carbon energy access go hand-in-hand with poverty reduction? The first day of the Low Carbon Energy Development Network (LCEDN) second international conference grappled with all of these, and more (Photo: Kevin Urama by Lance Bellers).
It was a stimulating, provocative and productive day with presentations and discussions focussing on which pathways to energy access for all might prove the most beneficial in terms of addressing poverty reduction, human development and economic growth.
During this, the United Nations' Year of Sustainable Energy for All, exploring the mix of potential solutions to these global challenges is more pressing than ever.
As, Nafees Meah, head of science at the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, pointed out during his conference address, there are 1.3bn poeple without access to modern energy, 2.7bn people without access to clean cooking and, by 2030, there will be 3bn middle class consumers.
We need to understand the impact of the energy access decisions these consumers make on the world's climate, Dr Meah said. "What works, and what doesn't work in driving clean energy? It is an area that is still unclear."
div class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"> The UK government, he said, is commited to expanding access to clean energy in developing countries, in trying to identify UK expertise and how it can most add value to critical research questions by working in close collaboration with research partners in developing countries. And that is one of the reasons behind DECC's sponsorship of the LCEDN.
The Network brings together researchers, policy-makers and practitioners from the UK to expand research capacity around low carbon development in the Global South. One of the functions of this second conference is to forge even closer partnerships with colleagues around the world, including in developing countries.
The event's keynote speaker, Kevin Urama, executive director of the African Technology Policy Studies Network, stressed the need for partnerships between developed and developing country experts.
"Creating partnerships with developing countries is a major issue - not just creating solutions and transferring them, " said Dr Urama.
"Technology transfer has traditionally ignored difference between end users. We need to move towards not only transferring knowledge and skills but towards building the knowledge and skills of the people - this becomes a systemic process of co-production and sharing knowledge, experiences, skills and equipment," he said.
Dr Urama added: "The marginalised and the poor are not benefitting from the CDM becasue the current mechanisms are using the old method of technology transfer."
You can watch videos of the speakers at the conference, flick through the presentations that were given and see photographs. All the material will be gathered on the event's Storify, which tells the story of the conference. All the material is not yet availble, but it will appear asap. You can also follow discusisons via the event hashtag on Twitter: #LCEDN2 .