Universal Energy Access Slowed by Pandemic, says SDG7 report

The Covid-19 pandemic slowed progress toward universal energy access, one of the key targets of UN Sustainability Development Goal (SDG) 7, according to the 2022 Energy Progress Report. Impacts of the pandemic, including lockdowns, disruptions to global supply chains, and diversion of fiscal resources to keep food and fuel prices affordable, have undermined efforts toward achieving SDG7, which aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030. Globally, 733 million people still have no access to electricity, and 2.4 billion still cook using fuels detrimental to their health and the environment. At current rates, 670 million people will be without electricity by 2030 – 10 million more than projected last year. Progress on energy efficiency slowed, with early estimates for 2020 point to a “substantial decrease” in intensity improvement due to the pandemic, as a result of a higher share of energy-intensive activities and lower energy prices. The report said the share of renewable capacity expansion rose by a record amount in 2021, but said capacity additions lagged in some of the countries most in need of increased access. The report was published by the SDG 7 custodian agencies: the International Energy Agency, the International Renewable Energy Agency, the UN Statistics Division, the World Bank, and the World Health Organisation.

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