Population growth erodes sustainable energy gains – UN report
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The world has made important progress towards improving energy efficiency, using more renewable sources of power and providing basic electricity to every household over the last two decades.
But the gains have barely been enough to keep up with population growth and surging energy demand and are far short of what is needed to curb climate change, a new UN-backed energy report suggests.
In the last 10 years, 1.7 billion people around the world gained access to electricity. But the world’s population grew by 1.6 billion over that same period, nearly wiping out the gains. Similarly, rising energy demand effectively eliminated half the energy efficiency savings and 70 percent of the gains from growth in renewable energy over the past decade.
“Even to stand still, we have to run extremely fast. That’s the challenge,” said Vivien Foster, a sustainable energy leader at the World Bank and one of the lead authors of the Global Tracking Framework report, released on Friday.
Based on household survey data from 180 countries around the world, the report examines progress over the last 20 years towards three sustainable energy goals the United Nations Secretary General has set for 2030: universal access to electricity and fuel sources other than firewood or dung for cooking; a doubling of renewable energy as a share of global energy use; and a doubling of the annual rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
About 70 countries around the world have signed up to try to meet the “Sustainable Energy for All” goals.
The report – the first to track progress on such goals – aims to drive better policy on sustainable energy as well as to support the inclusion of energy issues in new sustainable development goals (SDGs), which are expected to be adopted next year to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
1.2 BILLION WITHOUT ELECTRICITY
Access to clean and sustainable energy remains an enormous problem around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Globally 1.2 billion people have no access to electricity and 2.8 billion cook with firewood and other “solid fuels” that can cause health problems and that help fuel widespread deforestation.
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