Global leaders pledge to accelerate the transition to clean energy by 2030

As part of a proposed global roadmap, delegates at the five-day UN ministerial meeting said that an annual investment of 35 billion dollars can bring electricity access for 759 million people who currently lack it. A further $25 billion a year can help 2.6 billion people gain access to clean cooking between now and 2030. 

As such the required investment represents only a fraction of the multi-trillion-dollar global energy investment needed overall, but it can go a long way in bringing huge benefits to one-third of the world’s population, they said.

The United Nations has initiated the groundwork for a large-scale mobilisation of commitments this year, with recommendations on energy access and concrete actions to achieve clean, affordable energy for all by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

Already national and city governments, foundations and businesses have started announcing significant commitments in the form of energy compacts, driving action towards a high-level dialogue on energy. 

“The ambitious energy compacts being put forward by countries, businesses, cities and many other partners are a spark of hope for achieving a just transition towards sustainable energy and for improving the lives of millions of people in the process,” said Dialogue Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin, UN, under secretary-general for economic and social affairs.

Nonetheless, this is only the beginning and there is a need for much more commitment and concrete action to achieve targets by 2030.

The suggested roadmap, which will inform the high-level dialogue on energy in September 2021 and subsequently be considered in the political statement resulting from the summit, is based on reports submitted by five technical working groups that have brought together over 160 experts since March.

The five focus areas are: energy access; energy transition; enabling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), just energy transitions; innovation, technology and data; and finance and investment.

In order to achieve the SDGs and Paris Agreement targets, energy transition must become a transformational effort, a system overhaul, the roadmap suggests.

The reports recommend a rapid scale-up of available solutions to reach 8,000 gigawatts (GW) of renewables by 2030 from 2,800 GW currently, and to increase the average annual rate of energy efficiency improvement from the current 0.8 to 3 percent.

By 2025, 100 countries should establish targets for 100 percent renewable-based power, and there should be no new coal plants in the pipeline globally. The share of fossil fuels in the global mix will fall from the current 60 percent to 30 percent by 2030.

The proposed roadmap also calls for countries to phase out coal by 2030 in wealthier countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and by 2040 in non-OECD countries, recognising that many developing countries will need support for this process.

By 2050, 92 percent of power will come from renewable technologies.

“The energy revolution is underway, but 759 million people still live without electricity and the opportunities it provides,” said Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UN Development Programme and Co-Chair of the high-level dialogue.

“It is one of the most blatant examples of inequality in our world today. Affordable clean energy access for all is the foundation for achieving a global energy transition that is fast and fair,” added Steiner.

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