There is no development without fuelling the engine of growth. Energy is critical and people with no sustainable access to energy are deprived of the opportunity to become part of national and global progress. And yet, one billion people around the world live without access to energy. More than 781 million people in 2016, or 39% of the world’s population, do not have access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking.
Why is this important?
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has said, “Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity, and environmental sustainability. With access to energy, people can study, go to university, get a job, start a business – and reach their full potential.” Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today – security, climate change, food production, jobs or increasing incomes. Sustainable energy generates opportunity – it transforms lives, economies and the planet. There are tangible health benefits to having access to electricity, and a demonstrable improvement in wellbeing. Energy access therefore constitutes a core component of the sustainable development agenda for energy. The production of useable energy can also be a source for climate change – accounting for around 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
How can we address this?
Goal 7 of the SDGs aims to correct this enormous imbalance by ensuring everyone has access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services by the year 2030. To expand energy access, it is crucial to enhance energy efficiency and to invest in renewable energy. Asia has been the driver of progress in this area, expanding access at the twice the rate of demographic growth. 72% of the increase in energy consumption from modern renewable sources between 2010 and 2012 came from developing regions, including parts of Asia. Energy from renewable resources – wind, water, solar, biomass and geothermal energy – is inexhaustible and clean. Although the solution to energy’s climate crisis lies off-grid, renewable energy currently constitutes only 15% of the global energy mix. It is time for a new global partnership on sustainable energy for all, guided by Sustainable Development Goal 7 on universally accessible, efficient, clean, and reliable energy sources and services.
India and Goal 7
India is projected to be a significant contributor to the rise in global energy demand, around one-quarter of the total. However, as of 2016, more than 205 million people in India do not have access to electricity. The government’s National Solar Mission is playing an important role in the work towards renewable energy, and interventions in rural electrification and new ultra-mega power projects are moving India towards achieving universal energy access.
Targets for Goal 7
- By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services.
- By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
- By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
- By 2030, enhance international co-operation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology.
- By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing states and land-locked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support.