4.5.4 Implications of energy supply on sustainable development
The connection between climate-change mitigation and sustainable development is covered extensively in Chapter 12. The impact of the mitigation efforts from the energy-supply sector can be illustrated using the taxonomy of sustainability criteria and the indicators behind it. An analysis of the sustainability indicators mentioned in 750 project design documents submitted for validation under the CDM up to the end of 2005 (Olsen and Fenhann, 2006) indicated renewable energy projects provide the most sustainable impacts. Examples include biomass energy to create employment; geothermal and hydro to give a positive balance of payment; fossil-fuel switching to reduce emissions of SO2 and NOx; coal bed methane capture to reduce the number of explosions/accidents; and solar PV to create improved and increased access to electricity, employment, welfare and better learning possibilities.
22.214.171.124 Health and environment
Energy interlinks with health in two contradictory ways. It is essential to support the provision of health services, but energy conversion and consumption can have negative health impacts (Section 11.8). For example, in the UK, a lack of insufficient home heating has been identified as a principal cause of high levels of winter deaths (London Health Commission, 2003), but emissions from oil, gas, wood and coal combustion can add to reduced air quality and respiratory diseases.
The historical dilemma between energy supply and health can be demonstrated for various sectors, although it should be noted that recent times have seen major improvements. For instance, whereas epidemiological studies have shown that oil production in developed countries is not accompanied by significant health risks due to application of effective abatement technology, a Kazakhstan study compared the health costs between the city of Atyrau (with a high rate of pollution from oil extraction) and Astana (without). Health costs per household in Atyrau were twice as high as in Astana. The study also showed that the annual benefits of investments in abatement technologies were at least five times higher than the virtual annual abatement costs. A key barrier to investment in abatement technologies was the differentiated responsibility, as household health costs are borne by individuals, while the earnings from oil extraction accrue to the local authorities (Netalieva et al., 2005).
Accidental spills during oil-product transportation are damaging to the environment and health. There have been many spills at sea resulting in the destruction of fauna and flora, but the frequency of such incidents has declined sharply in recent times (Huijer, 2005). There are also spills originating from cracks in pipelines due to failure or sabotage. For example, it was estimated that the trans-Ecuadorian pipeline alone has spilt 400,000 litres of crude oil since it opened in 1972. Spills at oil refineries are also not uncommon. Verweij (2003) reported that in South Africa more than one million litres of petrol leaked from the refinery pipeline systems into the soil in 2001, thus contaminating ground water. One of the most recent oil spills occurred in Nanchital, Mexico in December 2004, where it was estimated that 5000 barrels of crude oil spilled from the pipeline with much of it going into the Coatzacoalcos River. Pemex, the company owning the pipeline, indicated a willingness to compensate the more than 250 local fishermen and the owners of the 200 hardest-hit homes. Coal mining is also hazardous with many thousands of fatalities each year. Exposure to coal dust has also been associated with accelerated loss of lung function (Beeckman and Wang, 2001).