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Pandemic, Ukraine war impede global energy development – report


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Pandemic, Ukraine war impede global energy development – report

2nd June 2022

By: Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer


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The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, including lockdowns, disruptions to global supply chains and the diversion of fiscal resources to keep food and fuel prices affordable, have affected the pace of progress toward the United Nations’ seventh Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030.

This is according to the 2022 edition of ‘Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report’, which shows that advances have been impeded particularly in the most vulnerable countries and those already lagging in energy access.


The report also reveals that 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 is jointly published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO).


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 slower rate of progress, the report finds that 670-million people will remain without electricity by 2030 – ten-million more than projected in 2021, which may be explained by the increasing complexity of reaching more remote and poorer unserved populations and the unprecedented impact of the pandemic.

The share of the world’s population with access to electricity rose from 83% in 2010 to 91% in 2020, increasing the number of people with access by 1.3-billion globally. The number without access declined from 1.2-billion people in 2010 to 733-million in 2020.

The impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on energy have been compounded in the last few months by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to uncertainty in global oil and gas markets and has significantly increased energy prices.

Africa remains the least electrified continent in the world, with 568-million people without electricity access. Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of the global population without electricity jumped to 77% in 2020 from 71% 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.

The share of the global population with access to clean cooking fuels and technologies rose to 69% in 2020 – a three percentage point increase over 2021. 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, the number of people without access to clean cooking fuel was close to three-billion, or one-third of the global population. It dropped to about 2.4-billion in 2020, with the increase in access being primarily driven by advancements in access in large, populous countries in Asia.

In contrast, access to clean cooking fuels in sub-Saharan Africa nearly doubled since 1990, reaching a total of about 923-million people in 2020.

The report suggests a multisectoral, coordinated effort to achieve the SDG 7 target of universal access to clean cooking by 2030.

In terms of renewable energy development, the report finds that, despite continued disruptions in economic activity and supply chains, renewable energy was the only energy source to grow throughout the pandemic.

However, these positive global and regional trends in renewable energy have left behind many countries most in need of electricity – a situation aggravated by a decrease in international financial flows for the second year in a row, falling to $10.9-billion in 2019.

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.

Further, the report finds that, rising commodity, energy and shipping prices, as well as restrictive trade measures, have all served to increase the cost of producing and transporting solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, wind turbines and biofuels and, therefore, uncertainty about the future of renewable energy projects has come to the fore.

Renewables' share needs to reach well over 30% of total final energy consumption by 2030, up from 18% in 2019, to be on track for reaching net-zero energy emissions by 2050.

Achieving this objective, the report suggests, requires strengthening policy support in all sectors and implementing effective tools to further mobilise private capital, especially in least-developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing countries.


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