Billions of dollars mobilised under the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative can halve energy poverty worldwide and more investment is being committed, but there is still a long way to go to meet the twin challenges of energy poverty and climate change. More than 90 million people have already gained access to sustainable energy under pledges made for the initiative, which is rallying governments, international institutions, businesses, banks and civil society towards three interlinked targets by 2030: achieving universal access to modern energy services, doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix.
“How do we convert commitments to kilowatt hours for real people? That is the trillion-dollar question,” Kandeh Yumkella, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and CEO of the SE4All initiative, told delegates to SE4All’s second annual Forum in the UN General Assembly Hall today.
“This is not about charity. This is about markets and investments. We see this as a trillion-dollar opportunity, not a trillion-dollar challenge.”
Some 1.1 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity, and nearly three billion rely on dangerous and polluting traditional fuels such as wood, charcoal and dung to cook and heat their homes.
At the same time, extensive energy use, especially in high-income countries, creates pollution, emits greenhouse gases and depletes non-renewable fossil fuels.
Commitments already made under the SE4All initiative by the EU, Germany and the United States alone are set to help developing countries to provide energy access for a total of nearly one billion people by 2030, but population growth means this will remain well short of universal access.
Partners at the four-day Forum in New York are announcing further significant commitments in both funding and tangible action, but there is still far to go.
The second edition of SE4All’s Global Tracking Framework, released by the World Bank at the SE4All Forum on Monday, estimates total annual investment of up to USD 1.2 trillion will be needed to 2030 in order to achieve these ambitious targets – triple the current flows of around USD 400 billion a year.
“Governments do not have that kind of resource. Only public-private partnerships will generate this kind of resource flow,” Yumkella said. “The framework we show requires investment not only in the South, but in the rich North.”