To make any progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a new approach to energy systems for the poorer nations is needed. Equally, a new approach to energy should shape thinking in the developed and industrializing world about energy futures. All countries need to have access to clean, affordable and reliable energy services that do not exacerbate the climate change risks. A global energy policy will emerge, but by the backdoor of environment policy. This article is in three parts. First, it examines the problem in the developing world. Second, it -establishes a framework for evaluating the approach to energy systems. Third, it argues that technology transfer as commonly practised is not an appropriate vector. In concluding, this article sets out an approach at international level.