The world will fall short of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy by 2030 unless efforts are scaled up significantly, an Energy Progress Report on Tracking Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 7 released Thursday shows.
The 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), surmised that despite accelerated progress over the past decade, more work needs to be done.
According to the report, significant progress was made on various aspects of the SDG 7 before the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
"This includes a notable reduction in the number of people worldwide lacking access to electricity, strong uptake of renewable energy for electricity generation, and improvements in energy efficiency," the report said but warned that despite these advances, global efforts remain insufficient to reach the key targets of SDG 7 by 2030.
"Almost 3 billion people remained without access to clean cooking in 2017, mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Largely stagnant progress since 2010 leads to millions of deaths each year from breathing cooking smoke," the report underlined.
The share of renewable energy in the global energy mix is only inching up gradually, despite the rapid growth of wind and solar power in electricity generation.
The report found that to meet the SDGs targets by 2030, countries must safeguard the gains already attained and accelerate efforts to achieve affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Key highlights on SDG7 targets:
- Access to electricity: Globally 789 million people still live without electricity and despite accelerated progress in recent years, the SDG target of universal access by 2030 appears unlikely to be met, especially if the COVID-19 pandemic seriously disrupts electrification efforts.
- Clean cooking: Almost three billion people remained without access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking, residing mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa
- Renewables: The share of clean energy must be scaled up
- Energy efficiency: Achieving SDG target 7.3 for energy efficiency will require the overall pace of improvement to accelerate significantly to around 3% a year between 2017 and 2030.
- International financial flows: International public financial flows to developing countries in support of clean and renewable energy doubled since 2010.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency stated in the report that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted deep inequalities around the world in terms of access to modern, affordable and sustainable energy.
Riccardo Puliti, global director for Energy and Extractive Industries and regional director for infrastructure in Africa at the World Bank, views access to reliable energy as a lifeline, especially in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
Francesco La Camera, director-general of IRENA said renewable energy is key in achieving SDG 7 and in “building resilient, equitable and sustainable economies in a post COVID-19 world.”
By Gulsen Cagatay