Covid 19 Pandemic led to a slow progress towards universal access to electricity and clean cooking fuels and technology, and the war in Ukraine could result in further setbacks, said a UN-backed report, published on June 1.
The 2022 edition of Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report shows that 733 million people worldwide still do not have access to electricity, and 2.4 billion people still cook using fuels detrimental to their health and the environment. The report stated that 670 million people would remain without electricity by 2030 – 10 million more than projected last year, at the current rate of progress.
The impacts of the pandemic, including lockdowns, disruptions to global supply chains, and diversion of fiscal resources affected the pace of progress toward the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7). This SDG targets affordable, reliable, sustainable and modem energy by 2030. The report said that advances have been impeded particularly in the most vulnerable countries and those already lagging in energy access. “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,” the report said.
The report finds Africa as the least electrified in the world with 568 million people without electricity access. Sub-Saharan Africa’s Share of the global population without electricity jumped to 77 percent in 2020 from 71 percent 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,
“International public financing for renewable energy needs to accelerate, especially in the poorest, most vulnerable countries. We have failed to support those most in need,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). “With only eight years left to achieve universal access to affordable and sustainable energy, we need radical actions to accelerate the increase of international public financial flows and distribute them in a more equitable manner, so 733 million people who are currently left behind can enjoy the benefits of clean energy access,” he said.
ACCESS TO ELECTRICITY
The share of the world’s population with electricity access rose from 83 percent in 2010 to 91 percent in 2020. Noting that meeting the 2030 target required increasing the number of new connections to 100 million a year, the report emphasised that the world will reach only 92 percent electrification by 2030 at current rates of progress.
The share of the global population with access to clean cooking fuels and technologies rose to 69% in 2020, an increase of 3 percentage points over last year. However, population growth outpaced much of the gains in access, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, the total number of people lacking access to clean cooking has remained relatively stagnant for decades. Between 2000 and 2010, this number was close to three billion people, or one-third of the global population. It dropped to around 2.4 billion in 2020.
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. Renewable shares need to reach well over 30 percent of TFEC by 2030, up from 18 percent in 2019. to be on track for reaching net-zero energy emissions by 2050.
From 2010 to 2019, global annual improvements in energy intensity averaged around 1.9 percent, well below the target, and the average. annual rate of improvement now has to reach 3.2 percent to make up for lost ground. This rate would need to be even higher consistently over 4 percent for the rest of this decade if the world is to reach net-zero emissions from the energy sector by 2050, as envisioned in the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.