Shift to clean, affordable energy critical to attaining Global Goals – UN officials
To tackle the double challenge of energy poverty and climate change – producing clean, affordable energy at a pace that will meet rising demand without environmental detriment – all stakeholders must step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems for everyone’s benefit, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Wednesday.
“Energy is the golden thread that connects all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” the Secretary-General told a High-Level Symposium on Global Energy Interconnection, at UN Headquarters today, where participants gathered to discuss ways to advance the 17 globally-agreed Goals.
Modern energy services are integral to poverty reduction, food security, public health and quality education for all. Moreover, they are the key to sustainable industrialization, healthier more efficient cities and successful climate action.
Despite this understanding, Mr. Guterres said the world is still far from achieving the vision of SDG7 on affordable and clean energy for all. Indeed, some one billion people still live without any access to any electricity at all – 500 million in Africa and more than 400 million in the Asia-Pacific region. And three billion still cook and heat their homes without the benefit of clean fuels and more efficient technologies.
“So, the world needs more energy, and – in particular – more clean energy,” Mr. Guterres continued, but stressed that as this need rises, the world is experiencing rising temperatures and in 2016, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide surged to a new high.
He said today’s Symposium could help point the way, as it would feature both policy- and technical-level presentations on how to strengthen global energy interconnection through the deployment of smart grids.
“With smart grids it is now feasible to generate, transmit and distribute power efficiently, cutting transmission losses and providing clean, affordable, economically viable and environmentally sound energy services,” he stated.
Echoing the Secretary-General’s sense of urgency, Liu Zhenmin, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its 17 SDGs and 169 targets, puts a strong emphasis on inter-linkages. As such, progress in implementing SDG7 on energy is bound to impact delivery on other Goals.
“Likewise, without increased access to modern energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy, there will be no progress on climate action,” he said, emphasizing: “So, we need to move from silo to synergy.” And in that regard, the UN is reforming its development system in response to the 2030 Agenda to provide more coherent support to Member States.
“New technologies, new business models, and new approaches to capacity building are all needed to transform the world and achieve global sustainable development. The global energy interconnection, through smart grids, offers one such avenue,” he said.