A way to get power to the world’s poor without making climate change worse

Back on October, I did a couple of posts — one, two — on the Scylla and Charybdis of modern times: energy poverty and climate change. On one hand, nearly a third of the human family lacks access to basic energy services like light, refrigeration, and charging for cell phones (which have become a necessity almost everywhere). On the other hand, lifting all of those people up to the level of energy access enjoyed by wealthy Westerners, even the least wealthy and most thrifty of wealthy Westerners, would produce enough carbon pollution to fry the planet.

Debate around this issue has been somewhat polarized, since the gloomy assumption shared by both sides is that if you avoid one danger, you run headlong into the other. More energy for the poor means more climate pollution — it’s a choice of what (or who) to sacrifice.