Billions of people lack access to electricity and clean energy sources. This is a major health issue and an impediment to economic development.
But while the coal industry claims that coal is the answer to energy poverty, their arguments do not stack up. Indeed, when coal companies themselves deliver energy poverty programs, they do it with anything other than coal. The proponents of the Carmichael mine donate solar street lights to villages in India.
The reason for this is that in many cases renewable energy is now cheaper because it avoids the need for costly grid connections. New coal power doesn’t go to the rural poor, who are not connected to the grid, but to wealthier people with existing connections, as pointed out by a former Secretary of the Indian ministry of power. The World Bank agrees that clean energy is the solution to poverty, not coal, impacts from which will hit the poor first and hardest.