According to Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO), unless efforts are scaled up significantly in countries with the largest deficits, the world will still fall short of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy by 2030.
According to the report, significant progress has been made since 2010 on various aspects of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, but progress has been unequal across regions.
Since 2010, more than a billion people have gained access to electricity.
As a result, 90 percent of the planet's population was connected in 2019.
Yet 759 million people still live without electricity, with about half of them living in fragile and conflict-affected settings.
"The Tracking SDG7 report shows that 90 percent of the global population now has access to electricity, but disparities exacerbated by the pandemic, if left unaddressed, may keep the sustainable energy goal out of reach, jeopardizing other SDGs and the Paris Agreement’s objectives," said Mari Pangestu, Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships at the World Bank, in a press release on Monday.
"Addressing energy access and climate change requires an inclusive energy transition. We must work together to achieve SDG7 so that everyone can access clean, affordable, and sustainable electricity," she stated.
The report examines various ways to bridge the gaps to reach SDG7, chief among them the goal of significantly scaling up renewables — which have proven more resilient than other parts of the energy sector during the covid-19 crisis.
While renewable energy has seen unprecedented growth over the last decade, its share of total final energy consumption remained steady as global energy consumption grew at a similar rate.
More than one third of the increase in renewable energy generation in 2018 can be attributed to East Asia — driven by large uptakes of solar and wind energy in China.
The largest country-level advances in renewable energy in 2018 were observed in Spain, owing to higher hydropower generation, followed by Indonesia where a rapid uptake of bioenergy for power generation played a substantial role.
To significantly increase the share of renewable energy in line with the SDG 7 target, current efforts need to accelerate in all end-use sectors to scale uptake of renewables while containing total energy demand.