The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed progress toward universal access to electricity, fuel and clean cooking technology, according to a United Nations-sponsored report.
Globally, 733 million people lack access to electricity, and 2.4 billion people still cook with fuels that are harmful to their health and the environment, according to the report published on Wednesday.
The findings are from the 2022 edition of Tracking Goal 7: The Energy Progress Report, which monitors global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7) to ensure affordable, modern energy supplies for all by 2030.
The study was prepared by United Nations entities and partners, known as the sponsoring agencies of Sustainable Development Goal 7, who are urging governments and decision-makers to step up action, Xinhua news agency reported.
The effects of Covid-19 such as lockdowns and supply chain disruptions have affected progress towards Goal 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The most vulnerable countries are the hardest hit. In Asia and Africa, nearly 90 million people who previously had access to electricity cannot afford their basic energy needs.
Africans are still the least electrified in the world, with only 568 million electrified. The percentage of people without electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa increased from 71 percent in 2018 to 77 percent in 2020, while most other regions have declined.
Moreover, advances in access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, have not been sufficient to keep pace with population growth.
The report found that renewable energy was the only energy source that grew during the pandemic despite ongoing disruptions to economic activity and supply chains.
Despite this, the countries most in need of electricity were left behind – a situation exacerbated by the fact that international financial flows declined for the second year in a row.
SDG 7 also includes targets related to energy efficiency. From 2010 to 2019, global average annual improvements in energy intensity were about 1.9 percent, well below the levels needed to meet targets and make up for lost ground.
The sponsors of SDG 7 are the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the International Energy Agency, the United Nations Statistics Division, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization.
The international community and policy makers were urged to preserve the gains for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7, and to continue working towards providing modern, reliable, sustainable and affordable energy for all. According to the report, the focus must remain on the countries most in need of assistance.
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