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Energy is used throughout the economy, and is one of the most important drivers for modern economic development. It is used to produce all kinds of consumer goods, heat or cool buildings, cook our food, and provide light and communication. These activities are also called energy services. We are interested in performing the energy service, rather than in using energy. There is a growing awareness of the serious problems associated with the provision of sufficient energy to meet human needs and to fuel economic growth worldwide. Environmental, health, social, economic, and security issues are affected directly or indirectly by energy use.

Current energy production and use patterns rely heavily on combustion of fossil fuels, a key factor in the record increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, which contributes to climate change in the earth's atmosphere. Other key environmental are regional (acidification of soil and water), local (smog, urban air quality, solid wastes, effluents, and thermal pollution); and indoor air pollution.

In many areas of the world, particularly the developing countries mega-cities, the health and environmental effects of such patterns of energy use are even more extreme, as technologies and policies for abating pollution and producing cleaner energy are not always available or implemented. Health is negatively affected not only by environmental pollution, but also by indoor use of fuels and the supply of energy.

Energy supply and use are already connected to the economic and social agenda. Many studies have shown those low-income households often have no access to commercial or low-polluting fuels. The use of biomass for cooking in many parts of the developing countries results in negative social and health impacts, especially for women. Reliance on energy imports also affects the security of many countries, directly or indirectly, increased reliance on imported fuels makes the economy more vulnerable to supply disruption and may lead to social conflicts, as many primary commodity prices are influenced by energy prices.

Adapted from Sustainable Energy Strategies, UNDP, 2000

- To abate: to decrease, to reduce
- To implement: to apply
- Disruption: disorder.

Guided Commentary

1) Referring to the text, what services does energy provide? (3 points)
2) Basing yourself on the text, what areas of human life are affected by energy use? (3 points)
3) Relying on the text, mention the negative effects of energy production and use on the environment. (4 points)
4) According to the text, what are the consequences of the energy supply policy in developing countries? (4 points)
5) What would you suggest to reduce too much reliance on imported energy products into your country? (6 points)

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