Urgent Action Needed for World’s Vulnerable Countries to Meet Energy Targets by 2030
NEW YORK 12 JUNE 2020 – Universal access to sustainable energy remains a major requirement for the world’s most vulnerable countries to gain a foothold in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to the latest Tracking SDG7 energy progress report, promising progress toward energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency has been made however efforts are falling well short of the scale required to meet the SDG 7 targets by 2030.
The report stresses that financing for SDG 7 remains uneven and that special attention needs to be given to Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
The report introduces tracking on a new indicator, 7.A.1, on international financial flows to developing countries in support of clean and renewable energy. Although total flows have doubled since 2010, reaching $21.4 billion in 2017, only 12 percent reached the least-developed countries, which are the furthest from achieving the various SDG 7 targets. Only 52% of the people in LDCs have access to electricity, and rural access rates are well below 10% in some countries.
Other important elements of SDG7 also continue to be off track. Almost 3 billion people remained without access to clean cooking in 2017. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of those lacking access increased from 750 million in 2010 to 890 million in 2018. Only 16% of the people in LDCs had access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking. In 22 LDCs, mostly in Africa, it was less than 5 per cent.
Without urgent action, LDCs are at risk of not meeting SDG 7 targets by 2030. Sustainable energy should therefore be one of the central thematic topics of the new 10-year programme of action for the LDCs to be adopted at the Fifth UN Conference on the LDCs in 2021.
Ending energy poverty in LDCs will require a radical change of pace, and massive investment in the coming years. The report also argues that despite the extraordinary growth potential for the energy sector in LDCs, these countries rarely benefit from larger financing schemes to the same extent as more prosperous, developing countries.
In the midst of building momentum for sustainable energy, the COVID-19 pandemic is certain to affect the energy transition and progress toward SDG 7 and will further hamper progress by vulnerable countries. Likewise, the crisis is pointing to the urgent need for access to reliable, affordable, sustainable, and modern energy—for hospitals and health facilities to treat patients, for schools to prepare children for the digital economy, for communities to pump clean water, and for people to gain access to information. The full impact of the covid-19 pandemic on energy access, energy efficiency, renewable energy deployment, and the full energy transition remains to be seen.
Photo: Solar panel in Benin. Solar Electric Light Fund, Flickr