IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change Strategies for providing energy for sustainable development

Although the provision of improved energy services is not mentioned specifically in the formal Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) framework, it is a vital factor. Electrification and other energy-supply strategies should target income generation if they are to be economically sustainable. It is important to focus on improving productive uses of energy as a way of contributing to income generation by providing services and not as an end in themselves. It has been argued that the traditional top-down approaches to reform the power sector – motivated by macroeconomic factors and not aimed at improving access for the poor – should be replaced by bottom-up ones with communities at the centre of the decision process (GNESD, 2006).

4.5.5 Vulnerability and adaptation

It is essential to look at how the various components of the energy-supply chain might be affected by climate change. At the same time, it is desirable to assess current adaptation measures and their adequacy to handle potential vulnerability. A robust predictive skill is required to ensure that any mitigation programmes adopted now will still function adequately if altered climatic conditions prevail in the future.

Official aid investments in developing countries are often more focused on recovery from disaster than on the creation of adaptive capacity. Lending agencies and donors will need to reform their investment policies accordingly to mitigate this problem (Monirul, 2004). Many developing countries are particularly vulnerable to extremes of normal climatic variability that are expected to be exacerbated by climate change. Assessing the vulnerability of energy supply to climatic events and longer-term climate change needs to be country- or region-specific. The magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events such as ice storms, tornadoes and cyclones is predicted to change, as may annual rainfall, cloud cover and sunshine hours. This is likely to increase the vulnerability of the various components of the energy-supply infrastructure such as transmission lines and control systems.

Sea-level rise, tropical cyclones and large ocean waves may hamper offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction of these fossil fuels. Higher ambient temperatures may affect the efficiency and capacity ratings of fossil-fuel-powered combustion turbines. In addition, electricity transmission losses may increase due to higher ambient temperatures. Renewable-energy systems may be adversely affected (Sims, 2003), for example if solar power generation and water heating are impacted by increased cloud cover. Lower precipitation and higher evaporation due to higher ambient temperatures may cause lower water levels in storage lakes or rivers that will affect the outputs of hydro-electric power stations. Energy crop yields could be reduced due to new pests and weather changes and more extreme storm events could damage wind turbines and ocean energy devices. The need to take measures to lessen the impacts on energy systems resulting from their intrinsic vulnerability to climate change will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future.