Energy access is key to improving the well-being of people who are experiencing economic hardship, according to this week’s speakers at the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Energy and the Energy Action Days. So far, the transition to clean energy is not usually happening in a way that includes people who lack electricity.
“Half of the population without access to electricity live in countries experiencing fragility and conflict, where lack of access to clean cooking and electricity disproportionately affects low-income and vulnerable populations and women and girls,” said the “Theme Report on Energy Access” published by the UN energy access technical working group.
“Further progress in accelerating energy access cannot be achieved without significantly increasing rates of access to electricity and clean cooking among the remote, poorest and most vulnerable population segments, including displacement-affected communities,” the report said.
“Reliable energy can be the difference between a baby living or dying [and can] make sure life-saving vaccines make it to every corner of the globe,” said Dialogue Co-Chair Damilola Ogunbiyi. “We must put people at the heart of our efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7.”
Focusing on SDG 7 involves organizational commitments to ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. The UN is developing a global roadmap for this goal. In May, it promoted a target of achieving “clean, affordable energy for all by 2030 and net-zero [carbon-dioxide] emissions by 2050.”
Five UN technical working groups are producing reports setting targets in the following areas:
- Energy access
- Energy transition
- Inclusive, just energy transitions
- Innovation, technology and data
- Finance and investment
“This is the first General Assembly dialogue to focus on energy in over 40 years,” said Samantha Power, administrator at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “I hope this gathering becomes an inflection point in understanding how important clean energy is.”