What do world countries need to achieve SDG7: "Affordable and Clean Energy"?
“Renewable energy is a clear winner when it comes to boosting the economy and creating jobs.” — Tom Steyer
As the United Nations pointed out, ensuring access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy for all has seen a step forward due to recent progress in electrification, particularly in LDCs, and in industrial energy efficiency. However, national priorities and policy ambitions still need to be strengthened to address all energy targets by 2030.
As for the progress made by countries toward the achievement of Goal 7, we can make reference to “Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report” in order to gain an accurate and updated overview of the situation. It is a joint annual publication by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), U.N. Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO). According to this year’s report, on the one hand, consistent improvements in expanding access to electricity were recently made in many countries, notably India, Bangladesh, and Kenya. As a result, the global population without access to electricity decreased to about 840 million in 2017 from 1.2 billion in 2010. On the other hand, nations that are still showing the largest access deficit are concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. However, the widespread use of polluting fuels and technologies for cooking still represents a major health and socioeconomic issue.
As for renewable energy, the use of renewable sources to generate electricity has increased rapidly, but less headway was made in heat and transportation. A further increase of this kind of sources is necessary for energy systems to become affordable, reliable, and sustainable.
Finally, concerning energy efficiency, enhancements have increased steadily in recent years, thanks to concerted policy efforts in major economies, including China. However, the “Tracking SDG7” report suggests that progress slowed in 2017 and 2018.
Additional efforts are essential in ensuring progress toward not only SDG7 but also climate mitigation. SDG7 and SDG13 are indeed closely related. According to both the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), energy sector investments will need to more than double in order to achieve Goal 7.
As for countries that are showing the best practices on energy procurement and consumption, we make reference to data put forward by the The World Energy Council’s “Energy Trilemma Index.” It ranks countries’ energy performance on three dimensions: “Energy Security, Energy Equity, and Environmental Sustainability.” The 2018 report ranks Denmark, Switzerland, and Sweden at the top, recognizing the well-balanced energy systems in these countries. Denmark also gained the highest score for Energy Security, followed by Slovenia and Canada, all showing secure and resilient systems. The Energy Equity dimension ranking is topped by smaller countries, where connectivity is managed well, as well as countries where energy is affordable thanks to government policies, like in Qatar, Luxemburg, Bahrain, and the Netherlands.
According to the U.N., in order to reach Goal 7 and create action toward it, countries around the world should put into practice the targets that can be found here.
In good news, all international agencies and organizations engaged in the achievement of SDG7 highlight the importance of political commitment and long-term energy planning, stepping up private financing and supplying adequate incentives for the deployment of clean technology options.
Thumbnail image credit: unsplash.com