The ISEP Credo



Energy, in the words of the distinguished scientist and policy analyst Vaclav Smil, is “the only universal currency; it is necessary for getting anything done”.


Today, this universal currency is in greater demand than ever. One of the spectacular successes of the human civilization is what Nobel laureate Angus Deaton calls “the great escape” – a precipitous decrease in the number of humans living in extreme poverty. Rapid economic growth and targeted efforts to reduce poverty around the world have lifted billions out of the misery of extreme poverty, an existence of hunger and disease.


Unfortunately, our civilization’s success in reducing poverty has not been free of detrimental side effects. Deaton’s great escape has been powered by massive quantities of fossil fuels: oil, gas, and coal. The burning of these fossil fuels is the single most important cause of the climate disruption that threatens the future of our species.


Why we need sustainable energy. Reading in the candlelight during yet another power outage in India (credit:

This year alone, we have seen ample evidence of the horrors of climate change. Floods in Nepal, India and Bangladesh killed thousands, while hurricanes Harvey ravaged Houston, Texas – the U.S.’s fourth largest city and Irma plunged large parts of Florida into complete darkness. Record temperatures in the Middle East and South Asia show the impossibility of human life in extreme heat. The list goes on.


We created ISEP – the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy – because the link between poverty alleviation and environmental destruction is one of the great global challenges of our generation. Without the universal currency of abundant and affordable energy, the end of poverty is but an empty and hollow phrase, entirely devoid of meaning. But unless that energy is clean and sustainable, human life on this planet will first become difficult and the impossible.


Progress toward halting climate disruption requires using sustainable energy to fuel economic growth for the 7.5 billion humans that live on this planet, not to mention future generations. Government, business, and civil society must work together to expand the use of sustainable energy in a way that helps all humans escape poverty.


At ISEP we believe that unlocking sustainable energy is possible but requires hard work and a healthy dose of pragmatism It is about a concentrated and collaborative effort with multiple stakeholders and actors from around the world. While the progress of renewable energy has been stunning and electric vehicles promise to revolutionize transportation, our current rate of decarbonization is still too slow and leaves us vulnerable to dangerous climate disruption. Until today’s dynamic emerging economies, led by India and China, are absolutely convinced that clean energy can power their economies, the burning of fossil fuels will continue to release vast quantities of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.


Hurricane Irma brought destruction to the Caribbean islands (credit: Lionel Chamoiseau/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

The global challenge of sustainable energy is momentous, and there are no easy solutions. Recognizing the fundamental social, economic, and political challenges ahead, ISEP advocates pragmatic policies that strike the right balance between energy for economic development and sustainability. Our work uses cutting-edge social and behavioral science to develop and test policies that drive a global sustainable energy transition without leaving anyone behind. We are supported not just by academics and experts but also on ground practitioners and investors to ensure a 360-degree approach to developing solutions for these complex issues.


Our commitment to fighting poverty with sustainable energy is unwavering, and we spare no effort to achieve our goal. This is our credo.


— ISEP Leadership


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