The COVID-19 pandemic has been a key factor in slowing progress towards universal energy access. However, the impact of the pandemic has been compounded in the last few months by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has led to uncertainty in global oil and gas markets and has sent energy prices soaring, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The 2022 edition of ‘Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report’ shows that the impact of the pandemic, including lockdowns, disruptions to global supply chains and diversion of fiscal resources to keep food and fuel prices affordable, have affected the pace of progress toward the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7) of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a key factor in slowing progress toward universal energy access. However, the impact of the pandemic has been compounded in the last few months by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has led to uncertainty in global oil and gas markets and has sent energy prices soaring, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Nearly 90 million people in Asia and Africa who had previously gained access to electricity can no longer afford to pay for their basic energy needs. Africa remains the least electrified region in the world with 568 million people without electricity access.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of the global population without electricity jumped to 77 per cent in 2020 from 71 per cent in 2018 whereas most other regions saw declines in their share of the access deficits.
While 70 million people globally gained access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, this progress was not enough to keep pace with population growth, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Globally, 733 million people still have no access to electricity, and 2.4 billion people still cook using fuels detrimental to their health and the environment. At the current rate of progress, 670 million people will remain without electricity by 2030—10 million more than projected last year, Paris-based IEA said in a press release.
The report finds that despite continued disruptions in economic activity and supply chains, renewable energy was the only energy source to grow through the pandemic.
However, these positive global and regional trends in renewable energy have left behind many countries most in need of electricity. This was aggravated by a decrease in international financial flows for the second year in a row, falling to $10.9 billion in 2019.
SDG 7 targets also cover energy efficiency. From 2010 to 2019, global annual improvements in energy intensity averaged around 1.9 per cent. This is well below the levels needed to meet SDG 7’s targets and to make up for lost ground, the average rate of improvement would have to jump to 3.2 per cent.
A multisectoral, coordinated effort is needed to achieve the SDG 7 target of universal access to clean cooking by 2030, the report noted.
It is critical that the global community learns from the successes and challenges faced by countries that have attempted to design and implement clean household energy policies.
While the share of renewable capacity expansion rose by a record amount in 2021, the positive global and regional trajectories mask the fact that countries where new capacity additions lagged were those most in need of increased access.
Moreover, rising commodity, energy and shipping prices, as well as restrictive trade measures, have increased the cost of producing and transporting solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, wind turbines and biofuels, adding uncertainty for future renewable energy projects.
The amount was down by nearly 24 per cent from the previous year and may be worsened by the pandemic in 2020. Overall, the level of financing remains below what is needed to reach SDG 7, particularly in the most vulnerable and least developed countries.
Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)