Energising Brazil’s Young People to Increase Energy Access and Efficiency

Young people are also valuable contributors to climate action, and so encouraging and empowering them to help support the clean energy transition is vital

The world is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 to 24 –the largest generation of youth in history, according to the UN. Young people are increasingly aware of the challenges and risks presented by the climate crisis and the opportunity to achieve sustainable development. Many young people live in regions with high energy needs, and they will experience the devastating effects of climate change in the future. However, young people are also valuable contributors to climate action, and so encouraging and empowering them to help support the clean energy transition is vital.

Development towards improved energy efficiency has been one of the largest casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2020, energy efficiency had its lowest progress in a decade. This deepens the challenge of reaching international energy and climate goals, with a need for more investment and innovation.

Climate change and the need for efficient appliances

As a result of climate change, heat waves have become more frequent in many parts of the world. Consequently, the demand for household appliances for cooling, such as refrigerators and air conditioners, is set to surge by 2050. Its impacts are already being observed — the consumption of AC units and electric fans amounted to 10% of global electricity in 2016. Addressing cooling needs with the adoption of more efficient appliances will be imperative to adapt to climate change. According to Sustainable Energy for All’s (SEforALL) Chilling Prospects report, there are 1.09 billion people worldwide at high risk from a lack of access to cooling.

Eduarda speaks at the Efficiency for Access panel at the SDG7 pavilion at COP26

Efficiency needs in Brazil

One country at particular risk due to lack of access to cooling is Brazil. It ranks sixth in a list of the top ten countries with urban poor at risk of rising temperatures, with 28,458,215 people vulnerable.

In 2021, Brazil suffered one of the most intense droughts in history. Brazil depends on electricity generated from its hydro dams — two thirds of the country’s total energy is produced through hydroelectric power, and it meets nearly 75% of its energy demand. This recent drought has led to a sharp increase in electricity prices, as demand outweighs supply. Therefore, it is vital that appliances are used in the most efficient way to conserve energy. However, as much of the population lacks reliable energy and efficient appliances, this is not always a viable option. Young people are especially at risk, as this is likely to be an ongoing problem as droughts increase in frequency and electricity prices rise.

There has been public investment in government programmes focused on energy efficiency, amounting to roughly USD 5.36 million in 2018. However, these programmes mainly had a specific focus on large-scale organisations, rather than household-level solutions. There is still little innovation in low carbon technologies; Brazil occupies the 66th place in a list of 129 countries. According to ABSTARTUPS (Brazilian Association of Startups), 1.5% of the country’s startups are from the energy sector. In terms of investment, according to Distrito’s EnergyTech Report 2021, from 2016 to 2021, only USD 85 million was invested in Brazilian energy technology companies. There is a need to increase investment into energy efficiency startups in Brazil, especially those run by young people, in order to encourage climate action from Brazil’s youth.

One example of young people being energised to help encourage energy efficiency is that of Atmos. Luiz Filipe Guerra, with his college peers, created Atmos, a solution to raise awareness and promote energy efficiency in Brazil. The multidisciplinary team at ATMOS brings together developers from diverse fields to help the clean energy transition. ATMOS has partnerships with junior enterprises, such as Renova Jr and ENETEC, and participates in lectures in universities throughout Brazil, to educate young people all over the country.

ATMOS developed an energy monitoring platform that uses smart meters and cloud processing to provide information about household energy consumption, aiming to encourage consumers to make more sustainable decisions. The software provides real-time data about energy consumption, predicts bills and gives recommendations for better energy usage. The technology has helped clients to reduce their electricity bills by 15% on average.

By having accurate information about electricity billing, people can become more conscious of their energy consumption. The majority of energy savings in Brazilian homes come from reducing the use of electric showers, refrigerators and air conditioning. According to studies carried out by the startup, using these appliances can add up to approximately 80% of the monthly electricity costs. They have published this information, so that appliance owners are more aware of which appliances may be using more electricity. Having access to this data can also help raise awareness of sustainable development and further efforts to achieve target 12.8 of the Sustainable Development Goals: ensuring that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development.

Of his leadership at ATMOS, Guerra said:

My role as the SDG 7 ambassador of Hacking.Rio 2021, Latin America’s biggest hackathon and ambassador of Latin American Sustainable Energy Summit 2021 has helped me to engage youth and contribute to the discussion about sustainability. Through my participation, I believe I contribute by bringing more awareness to the importance of conscious consumption of energy as a way to guarantee a better future for the next generations. Founding and leading ATMOS has personally been a great joy and a constant challenge. I have learned a lot and I am glad to contribute to this essential energy transition.

More incentives are needed to energise young people

Despite Guerra’s success, there is still a lot that can be done to help mobilise young people in Brazil. Financial incentives from the government, education around energy efficiency, and the opportunity to actively participate in decisions are all ways to help achieve universal energy access and increase innovation.

Almost 400 young people aged between 18 and 29 from the 197 member-countries of the UNFCCC met in Milan from 28–30 September 2021 to elaborate concrete proposals on topics that affect the negotiation process of Pre-COP26 in Milan and COP26 in Glasgow. The event offered young people from all over the world the opportunity to develop concrete proposals for Pre-COP26 in Milan and COP26 in Glasgow.

In response to the event, COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, stated: “The messages we have heard from young people here at Youth4Climate should serve as a wake-up call to ministers around the world. Their outcomes, which align with many of our goals for COP26, will help to inform this critical multilateral process. This is a generation that faces frightening consequences and will rightly judge us if we fail to act. We must be able to look young people in the eye and say that we did everything necessary to protect their future.”

As we approach COP27 in Egypt, and 2030, efforts are increasing to help accelerate a clean energy transition. Guerra is confident that young people will be at the forefront, driving change.


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