SDG 7: win-win for ending energy poverty and protecting the climate

In 2015, the climate and development agendas crossed paths with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and the Paris Agreement. While climate change touches all facets of development, perhaps the most direct link is made through SDG 7 which calls for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030 through the achievement of three targets: ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services; increasing substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix; and doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.

A high-level roundtable discussion was held at COP25 in Madrid to discuss SDG 7 within the context of climate action, organised by IRENA, SEforAll, and UNFCCC, with support from the IEA and REN21. Given that two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy sector this was a vitally important conversation.

Several speakers emphasized that the keys to success are target setting by governments and the establishment of effective regulatory and other enabling frameworks which are simple, fair, inclusive, and that ensure nobody is left behind. The strong view was expressed by many that a holistic approach is required; there is a need for systemic change rather than drop-in solutions. It was suggested that subsidies for fossil fuels must be redistributed for the purposes of promoting a more equitable, clean energy future. This correspondents to IRENA’s own findings calling for a re-direction of fossil fuel investments earmarked until 2050 of USD 18.6 trillion to keep the world on Paris Agreement track.