Basic energy access lags behind renewable opportunities, new report shows

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A new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO) has been released today, showing that the world will meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 for energy by 2030. Not on track to achieve.

This year marks the halfway point towards achieving the SDGs by 2030. SDG 7 is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. The goal is to achieve universal access to electricity and clean cooking, double historical levels of efficiency improvements, and significantly increase the share of renewables in the global energy mix. Achieving this goal will have a profound impact on people’s health and well-being, helping to protect them from environmental and social risks such as air pollution and expanding access to primary health care and services.

Monitoring the 2023 version of SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report warns that current efforts are insufficient to achieve SDG 7 on time. Some progress has been made on specific elements of the SDG 7 agenda—for example, an increased rate of use of renewables in the power sector—but progress has not been sufficient to achieve the goals set out in the SDGs.

The global energy crisis is expected to drive the deployment of renewables and improve energy efficiency with many government policies pointing to increased investment. However, IRENA estimates that international public financial flows in support of clean energy in low- and middle-income countries have been declining since before the COVID-19 pandemic and financing is limited to a small number of countries. To achieve the SDG 7 targets and ensure that people fully benefit from the socioeconomic gains of the transition to sustainable energy, it is necessary to structurally reform international public finance and define new opportunities to unlock investments.

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The report also found that mounting debt and rising energy prices worsen the outlook for achieving universal access to clean cooking and electricity. According to current projections, 1.9 billion people will be without clean cooking and 660 million without electricity by 2030 if we do not take further action and continue current efforts.

These gaps will negatively impact the health of our most vulnerable populations and accelerate climate change. According to the WHO, 3.2 million people die each year from diseases caused by the use of polluting fuels and technologies that increase exposure to toxic levels of indoor air pollution.

Key findings of the report

  • In 2010, 84% of the world’s population had access to electricity. This increased to 91% in 2021, meaning over a billion people gained access during that period. However, access growth slowed down in 2019-2021 compared to previous years. Rural electrification initiatives have contributed to this progress, but there is a large gap in urban areas.
  • By 2021, 567 million people in sub-Saharan Africa will have no access to electricity, with more than 80% of the world’s population without access. The lack of access in the region remained the same as in 2010.
  • The world is on track to achieve universal access to clean cooking by 2030. 2.3 billion people still use polluting fuels and technologies for cooking, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The use of traditional biomass means households spend up to 40 hours a week gathering firewood and cooking, which prevents women from working or participating in local decision-making bodies and children from going to school.
  • According to a 2019 WHO estimate, 3.2 million premature deaths each year are caused by indoor air pollution created by the use of polluting fuels and technologies for cooking.
  • The use of renewable electricity in global consumption increased from 26.3% in 2019 to 28.2% in 2020, the largest single-year increase since progress on the SDGs began to be tracked.
  • Efforts to increase the share of renewables in heating and transport, which account for more than three-quarters of global energy consumption, fall short of the goal of meeting 1.5oC climate objectives.
  • Energy intensity – a measure of how much energy the world economy uses per dollar of gross domestic product – improved by 1.8% annually from 2010 to 2020. This is more than a 1.2% improvement over previous decades.
  • However, the energy intensity improvement rate has slowed in recent years, falling to 0.6% in 2020. This makes it the worst year for energy-intensive development since the global financial crisis. A temporary setback. Annual improvements to 2030 must average 3.4% to reach SDG target 7.3.
  • International public financial flows in support of clean energy in developing countries stand at US$10.8 billion in 2021, 35% below the 2010-2019 average and only 40% of the 2017 peak of US$26.4 billion. By 2021, 19 countries will receive 80% of the responsibilities.
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The report will be presented to key decision makers at a special launch event on 11 July 2023. High Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF)., ahead of the second SDG Summit in New York in September 2023. The authors urge the international community and policymakers to preserve the gains made in achieving SDG 7, advance structural reforms, and strategically focus on vulnerable countries that need the most support.

„The energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is having a profound impact on people around the world. High energy prices have hit the most vulnerable hard, especially those in developing economies. The clean energy transition is moving faster than many think. The billions of people living without modern energy services need stable, secure and „More work is needed to deliver affordable access. Successful energy transitions rely on effective policies and technological innovation and the international community must use all these tools to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by the end of this decade,” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency.

„Cost-competitive renewable energy has again shown significant resilience, but the world’s poorest have yet to fully benefit from it. To achieve SDG7 without compromising climate goals, we must bring about a systemic change in the way international cooperation works. Multilateral financial institutions, renewable deployment and related physical infrastructure It is critical to channel financial flows more equitably around the world in support of development,” noted Francesco La Camera, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

„Despite progress towards sustainable energy targets in the mid-2030s, target 7 appears more difficult to achieve than in 2015 and scaled action is necessary to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. All by 2030. Electricity and clean cooking are still major regional challenges. show disparities and must be at the center of action to ensure that no one is left behind. Investments must reach least-developed countries and sub-Saharan Africa to ensure more equitable progress towards Goal 7,” noted Stephen Schweinfest of the United Nations Statistics Division.

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„Despite a recent slowdown in the pace of global electrification, the number of people without electricity has nearly halved over the past decade, from 1.1 billion in 2010 to 675 million in 2021. However, additional efforts and actions must be taken urgently to ensure that the poorest and hardest-to-reach populations are not left behind. To achieve universal access by 2030, the development community must increase clean energy investments and policy support,” said Guangshe Chen, World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure.

„We must protect the next generation by acting now. Investing in clean and renewable solutions to support universal energy access can make a real difference. Clean cooking technologies in homes and reliable electricity in healthcare facilities play a vital role in protecting the health of our most vulnerable populations,” said the World Health Organization. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus concluded.

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