Progress towards sustainable energy is underway, but not on track

Friday 22 May 2015

Significant progress has been achieved towards modern energy access, increased energy efficiency and renewable energy, but much more is required to achieve the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative goals by 2030, according to a new report published on Monday (18th of May).

Launched in September 2011 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, SE4All has three main objectives by 2030: to ensure universal access to modern energy services, to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

The second edition of the SE4ALL Global Tracking Framework (GTF 2015), a multi-agency effort led by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Bank, provides an update of how the world has been moving towards the three SE4All objectives. Heavily reliant on IEA data, GTF 2015 reports progress on selected indicators over the two-year tracking period of 2010-2012 to determine whether movement has been fast enough to meet the 2030 goals.

Global Tracking Framework 2015 estimates that, as of 2012, 85% of the global population had access to electricity, translating into more than 220 million people gaining access since 2010. Progress in improving access to clean cooking facilities has been relatively slow, and more than 40% of the world’s population still relies on solid fuels for cooking, keeping the goal of universal access to modern cooking by 2030 at a far distance. Primary energy intensity (the global proxy for energy efficiency) fell by more than 1.7% a year over the tracking period, still nearly a full percentage point slower than the SE4ALL objective. Similarly, the share of renewable energy in final consumption grew from 17.8% in 2010 to 18.1% in 2012, but the rate of progress needs to almost double to achieve the corresponding SE4ALL objective.

A scale-up in investments for sustainable energy is urgently needed to achieve the SE4All goals. Global investment in areas covered by the three objectives was estimated at around USD 400 billion in 2010, while additional annual investments required are estimated to be in the range of USD 600 billion-USD 850 billion. The achievement of the SE4All objectives will also depend critically on the efforts of a group of countries with a relatively large impact at the global level, while state-of-the-art technology transfer to developing economies will be essential. Finally, the nexus between energy systems and other key areas of development – water, food, health and gender – suggests that numerous opportunities can arise from wider cross-sector perspectives.

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