In his weekly column, South Lakeland District Council leader Giles Archibald gives his take on pressing issues in the county.

I hope some of you saw a recent David Cameron interview in which he launched a new global initiative on renewable energy for the ‘fragile states.’

These are the states, like South Sudan, Yemen and Syria, that are not able to deliver stable government and find it difficult to protect basic human rights.

Climate change can worsen the instability of these states, leading to disease, malnutrition, migration and even conflict. David Cameron was promoting a recent report from the Council on State Fragility, which advocates that rich countries assist the low-income countries, particularly those that are unstable, in alleviating poverty, in particular through a programme of renewable energy investments.

Today, around 800m people currently are without direct access to electricity. More than 2bn people use forms of biomass for cooking that can be harmful to human health (eg some forms of wood, animal dung and crop waste). Coal and kerosene are also frequently used for household cooking. It has previously been estimated that annually more than 3.5 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices. Traditional cooking methods can release harmful particles into the air as they burn. When inhaled regularly, these particles cause diseases such as asthma, lung disease and pneumonia.

Poverty alleviation, improved human health, reducing greenhouse gases and electricity access are directly linked. Many health problems can be traced back to the use of the wrong fuels for cooking.

Fortunately, renewable energy solutions, such as home solar systems for water heating and energy generation as well as solar stoves, are now available and can deliver economic, climate and health benefits from which all nations will benefit.

Many countries, like South Africa, India, Tanzania and Bangladesh, are installing these home solar systems, but many more need help. That is why David Cameron is so passionate about our international development budget. He wants the UK to use some of it to help fragile nations seize the opportunities presented by home solar systems, thereby improving health and alleviating poverty. By so doing we can help to stabilise these fragile nations. I fully support him in this campaign. I hope you will as well.