poor india

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While you’re sitting at home (or somewhere else) enjoying your internet connection you are probably not thingking about the 1.6 billion people across the world with no access to electricity. That’s roughly 1/4 of the world’s population! Something good to think about when you’re really pissed that your computer can’t support the latest shooting game.

Anyway, I was pleased to read in Nature that there scientists have elaborated a program aimed at providing cheap electricity by access to solar lighting. Actually, there are many programs such as this one; what makes it special? Well, this is special because it is being supported by one of the heavyweights of global science policy.

This week, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel-prizewinning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, lauded the solar-lighting campaign, called ‘Lighting a billion lives‘. When he held a speech in Copenhagen, Denmark, he underlined the fact that the US$12 billion spent each month could be put to a much better use, which is supporting the $15 billion needed to bring lighting just under 1 billion people. This campaign is aimed mostly at India, and it’s being led by the Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi.

It focuses on giving people cheap, rented, rechargeable lanterns. These options are not only cheaper, but also cleaner than the kerosene or crop leftovers often burned to provide household lighting after dark, says project coordinator Akanksha Chaurey. This project is not officially recognized for carbon offsetting, and might never be, says Sharon Corrigan, a spokesperson for London-based carbon offsetting agency the CarbonNeutral Company.