UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Almost a quarter of the global population, or 1.5 billion people, lives without electricity, 80 percent of them in the least developed countries (LDCs) of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a new UN report showed Monday.
The report was produced in partnership by the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), with support from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
According to the report, to halve the proportion of people living in poverty by 2015 -- the first of eight, internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -- 1.2 billion more people will need access to electricity and two billion more people will need access to modern fuels like natural gas or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), also called propane.
Two million people die every year from causes associated with exposure to smoke from cooking with biomass and coal -- and 99 percent of those deaths occur in developing countries.
In LDCs and sub-Saharan Africa, half of all deaths from pneumonia in children under five years, chronic lung disease and lung cancer in adults are attributed to the use of solid fuel use, compared with 38 percent in developing countries overall.
"The time has come to make hard choices needed to combat climate change and enhance global energy security, and at the same time we should not forget 1.5 billion people who have no access to electricity in the developing world," said Fatih Birol, chief economist of IEA.