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IEA: ‘COVID and Russian war halt energy access progress’

The combination of COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has hampered the progress of universal energy access.

That’s according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which claims that if current trends continue, 670 million people will remain without electricity by 2030 – this is 10 million more than was estimated last year.

Across the globe, 733 million people still have no access to electricity, with 2.4 billion still using cooking fuels that damage their health, the report claims.

The seventh Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is to ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy by 2030, however, the analysts claim that supply chain issues and hiked prices have put this in doubt.

The study reveals that to meet this goal, 100 million connections to electricity will have to be made each year – and at the current rate of progress, only 92% of the world will be electrified by the end of the decade.

The impact of worldwide events can be seen clearly in developing nations, with 90 million people in Asia and Africa who had previously been able to gain access to electricity now not able to afford it.

Africa has 568 million people without electricity, making it the least electrified region in the world.

Although renewable consumption grew healthily during the pandemic, the analysis suggests that the areas that already needed access the most were not on the receiving end.

Renewables need to make up 30% of energy consumption by 2030 to be on track for net zero by 2050 – but without global access, this may not be possible.

The report stresses that more investment in national data systems is needed to properly track the progress of SDG 7 and understand where energy access needs to improve and the steps that can be taken to achieve this.

Fatih Birol, Executive Director at the IEA, said: “Today, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered a global energy crisis, driving huge price spikes that are causing particularly severe impacts in developing economies.

“Many of these economies were already in dire financial straits as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and overcoming these difficulties to get on track for SDGs will require massive and innovative financial solutions from the international community.”

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