A report by five International agencies feared that the target for achieving SDG 7 which ensures universal access to affordable and modern electricity by 2030 might not be achieved due to coronavirus pandemic.
The report – ‘Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report’ – said that renewable energy is key to achieving SDG 7 and building resilient, equitable and sustainable economies in a post COVID-19 world.
It was prepared by World Bank, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), World Health Organisation (WHO), International Energy Agency (IEA) and the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD).
The agencies were designated by the UN Statistical Commission to compile and verify country data, along with regional and global aggregates, in relation to the progress in achieving the SDG 7 goals.
“Despite accelerated progress over the past decade, the world will fall short of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy by 2030 unless efforts are scaled up significantly,” said the report.
It said significant progress had been made on various aspects of the SDG 7 prior to the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
SDG 7 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, released globally on Thursday, revealed that the number of people without access to electricity declined from 1.2 billion in 2010 to 789 million in 2018. However, under policies that were either in place or planned before the start of the COVID-19 crisis, an estimated 620 million people would still lack access in 2030, 85 percent of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Despite these advances, global efforts remain insufficient to reach the key targets of SDG 7 by 2030,” it mentioned.
The report presents policymakers and development partners with global, regional and country-level data to inform decisions and identify priorities for a sustainable recovery from COVID-19 that scales up affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.
This collaborative work highlights once more the importance of reliable data to inform policy-making as well as the opportunity to enhance data quality through international cooperation to further strengthen national capacities.
The report has been transmitted by SDG 7 custodian agencies to the United Nations Secretary-General to inform the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s annual review.
It mentioned that now more than ever is the time for bold international cooperation to bridge the energy access gap and place sustainable energy at the heart of economic stimulus and recovery measures.
IRENA is committed to scale up action with its global membership and partners to channel investment and guide policy intervention in pursuit of sustainable development for all humankind,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), one of the custodians of the report.
An acceleration of renewables across all sectors is required to move closer to reaching the SDG 7 target, with advances in heating and transport currently lagging far behind their potential, the report pointed out.
Also read: SDGs must be understood to be achieved
Following strong progress on global energy efficiency between 2015 and 2016, the pace has slackened. The rate of improvement needs to speed up dramatically, from 1.7 percent in 2017 to at least 3 percent in coming years.