Climate change has been identified by many as the biggest environmental problem of our times. Seeing climate change mitigation and adaptation in broad ecological and human rights-orientated context is necessary. For example, at best climate change mitigation reduces both greenhouse gas emissions and resource depletion along with improvements in air quality and more efficient use of all resources in production and consumption.
Siemenpuu considers it important to advance climate protection with an energy justice perspective. Energy discussions and policies often assume access to existing national grids, overlooking the fact that at least 1.3 billion people globally lack basic electricity access and 2.7 billion lack clean cooking facilities. Women in most developing countries experience energy poverty differently and more severely than men, often performing basic subsistence tasks including time-consuming and physically draining tasks of collecting biomass fuels. Unequal gender relations limit women’s ability to participate and voice their energy needs in decision-making at all levels of the energy system.
Furthermore, aggregate national approaches often favour large-scale infrastructural developments that are routinely accompanied by human rights abuses and ecological degradation, including biodiversity loss. In contrast to this, small-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects can deliver huge benefits to local communities, particularly those without access to grids.
Nearly all support by Siemenpuu addresses climate protection in one way or another. On energy related aspects Siemenpuu has in the past supported some local energy and climate justice initiatives in several countries, but the main support has been to the work on sustainable energy issues in the Mekong region in Southeast Asia, where energy production, and electricity generation in particular, has rapidly turned into a regional business. The Mekong River Basin is currently suffering from a sudden and massive increase in dam building, and Thailand and China are pushing for several dam projects in Myanmar. These would harm the ecosystems and basis of livelihoods, as large rivers in the Mekong Region are essential for millions of fishers and small-holder farmers.
In addition to large scale projects’ significant damage to nature and local communities, the highly centralised official energy plans have led to excess power plant capacity in many countries. Thus, civil societies in the Mekong countries, especially in Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar, have begun to influence official plan making already at the 'upstream' of the energy sector. In order to generate public debate and to influence decision making, both scientific knowledge and active awareness raising has been employed on the following issues: on the interests contributing to the growth of energy production, on the cross-border capital flows, and on the negative impacts of energy projects.
Siemenpuu’s aim is to promote local, decentralized and ecologically sustainable means of energy production in both technical and political level. On policy level objective is to reduce the environmental and social impacts of energy economy by influencing the decision-makers and supporting of preparing alternative sustainable energy plans by CSOs. On community level, the supported projects are expected to enable communities to produce their energy sustainably especially from solar power, to get support for the local energy production from authorities and to strengthen the space for democratic decision making and women’s rights on energy and climate change policies.
Read the introduction to Siemenpuu's development cooperation programme. This funding scheme is based on the experiences of the previous Mekong programme. Read a background article about displacements, as many of them are energy related.