Expanding Energy Access While Reducing GHG Emissions

On Earth Day 2020, more than 5,000 environmental groups from 184 countries, representing hundreds of millions of citizens around the world, sent a message to global leaders that they wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy. 

Since then, Earth Day has picked up momentum, and has grown to the world’s largest secular observance – with more than a billion people marking it last year. In those same 20 years, however, annual global emissions have continued to rise, from 25.11b tons in 2020 to 36.4b tons in 2019. Even the temporary dip in emissions in 2020 due to lockdowns triggered by COVID-19 wasn’t enough to impact the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, according to the latest report from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization — and the effects of a warming planet become ever-more tangible through hurricanes and droughts, floods and wildfires.

More than 10% of these total global emissions derive from residential energy use, primarily for electricity and heating. At the same time, 789 million people world-wide continue to live without any access to electricity – the vast majority of whom are in sub- Saharan Africa. This lack of energy not only severely curtails educational and economic opportunities, and quality of life – but also makes those living without electricity more vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. While Africa is responsible for only 3.7% of CO2 emissions, many argue the continent will be the hardest hit by climate change, in the form of droughts, heat waves, and potential crop failures – just to name a few.

Lighting Global’s Approach

In line with the World Bank Group’s Climate Action Plan 2021- 25, our work benefits climate mitigation – both by reducing GHG emissions, and by enabling users to better adapt to the negative impacts of climate change. By displacing the use of kerosene lamps and similar fuel-based lighting sources, the use of off-grid products meeting Lighting Global / VeraSol Quality Standards has already avoided an estimated 44.5 million tons of CO2e emissions since 2009. This is the emissions equivalent of taking more than 9.6 million cars off the road for a year. As we continue to move further up the technology ladder, enabling access to appliances that support productive uses leveraging solar energy (PULSE), such as irrigation, grain milling, refrigeration, and more, the displacement impact will grow, as the use of diesel generators can also be reduced or replaced through PULSE. 

These same off-grid solar products which enable users to avoid using polluting energy sources, can also be applied to reduce some of the impacts of a warming planet. Off-grid solar can power fans to keep an indoor environment cool, or enable refrigeration to slow food spoilage and store vaccines and other medications. As droughts become more common, the need for irrigation to prevent crop failure becomes more essential, with solar water pumps able to play an important role. In the aftermath of climate (as well as other human-made) disasters such as hurricanes, off-grid energy can also be rapidly deployed to support the recovery period providing lighting and enabling communications. 

Looking Forward

Our program’s goal is to enable access for 600 million people to Tier 1+ access by 2030 through off-grid solar products, allowing users to expand their opportunities and abilities to live well even on a warming planet, while continuing to displace harmful emissions. 

At the same time, we are seeking to address the unintended negative environmental consequences from the e-waste of the solar lights and solar home systems that have already reached their end-of-life — an estimated 26.2 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia alone. Safe disposal of these products can be challenging as they often contain toxic metals and hazardous chemicals and as off-grid solar and electronic appliance markets grow, it is expected that more and more governments will adopt e-waste policies. To support in this endeavor, we are recruiting a firm to develop an Off-Grid Solar E-Waste Management Toolkit to assist World Bank project teams and counterpart governments assess the environmental risk in off-gird solar projects and develop appropriate environmental and social framework (ESF)/safeguard instruments and policies. 

Read more about this Toolkit and our environmental work and impact:









依照世界银行集团的《气候变化行动计划》(2021-2025年),我们的工作有利于减缓气候变化——既可减少温室气体排放,又能帮助用户更好地应对气候变化带来的负面影响。自2009年以来,通过使用符合点亮全球 / VeraSol 质量标准的离网产品替代煤油灯及类似的燃料灯,减少了约4450万吨二氧化碳的排放,相当于路上行驶960多万辆汽车一年的排放量总和。在我们持续推动技术升级,提升例如灌溉、粮食加工、冷藏等生产用太阳能设备使用的同时。我们将持续加大太阳能替换力度,如减少柴油发电机的使用,或替换为生产用太阳能设备。




我们的项目目标是,到2030年,使全球6亿人口能够接入能源阶梯一级以上(Tier 1+)的离网太阳能产品,即使在全球气候变暖的环境下,也能有机会和能力创造美好的生活,同时不断减少有害排放。

与此同时,我们将继续寻求解决之道,消除报废的太阳能灯及太阳能家用系统所产生的电子垃圾造成的负面环境后果——据估测仅在非洲撒哈拉以南和南亚地区就有262万吨这样的电子垃圾需要处理。如何安全处理这些产品是一大挑战,因为这类产品通常含有有毒金属和有害化学物质,随着离网太阳能电器市场的增长,可以预见,越来越多的政府将采纳电子垃圾政策。为支持这方面的努力,我们正在招募开发离网电子垃圾管理工具软件包的企业,以支持世界银行项目团队以及对口政府对离网太阳能项目的环境风险进行评估,并制订适当的环境及社会架构(ESF)/ 安全保障工具及政策。