SDG 7 aims to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services, with an emphasis on renewable energy. 1 Central to this goal is expanding the infrastructure and enhancing the technology for supplying energy in developing countries. Affordable and clean energy are crucial to the achievement of almost all of the Sustainable Development Goals. While progress towards SDG 7 has been made in recent years, it falls short of what will be needed to meet the targets for 2030. SDG 7 is further refined by targets that can be more readily translated into actions. These targets highlight the interconnected nature of the goals: For example, strategies to achieve the goal of Affordable and Clean Energy are intertwined with strategies that support SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities). Below are a series of synergies that can come from providing access to products, services and systems that address Affordable & Clean Energy.

Access to Safe, Affordable and Sustainable Transportation

According to the World Bank, transportation accounts for 23% of global energy related greenhouse gas emissions.2 High-carbon transport generates health, environmental, and economic losses associated with pollution as 70% of fuel energy is lost in engine and driveline inefficiencies.3 By 2030, there will be more than 1 billion additional people on earth, and aspirations for mobility will continue to rise. 4 Passenger traffic is expected to increase by about 50% while freight volume is expected to grow by more than 70% during that timeframe.5,6 If these increases rely on use of fossil fuels, the negative impacts on health, the environment and economies will be exacerbated. 7 Further, millions of people globally live in rural areas where there they often lack access to affordable (or any) transportation services,8 and in 2018 roughly 55.3% of the world’s population lived in urban areas. An additional two billion people are expected to move to cities by 2045, which will strain public transportation systems. Meeting the growing need for mobility in both rural and urban areas has the potential to improve people’s quality of life, as well as to reduce pollution via energy-efficient, affordable transportation. Urban mass transit systems and services need to be upgraded while rural transportation systems should be developed or improved.9, 10, 11, 12 Making transportation efficient, affordable and green will be essential in the fight to combat climate change. 13

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Access to Adequate Housing and Living Conditions

Residential buildings account for 24% of energy consumption and 18% of CO2 emissions globally. Housing systems that are energy efficient and that use affordable, clean energy save costs and reduce air pollution.14 Current projections place the global housing deficit, especially for quality housing, at over 2 billion people by 2030. If new housing stock fails to be sustainable and energy efficient, cities and countries will be confronted with ever more dangerous energy consumption patterns. Well-designed and environmentally conscious housing development presents an opportunity to mitigate climate change. Planning of residential areas and thoughtful urban renewal, particularly focused on upgrading housing in heavily populated urban areas with substandard housing and informal settlements, can help reduce the carbon footprint of cities and the greenhouse gas emissions of the building sector.15

Access to Affordable, Sustainable and Modern Energy

Access to modern energy is fundamental for development and poverty reduction, yet many people, particularly in developing countries, struggle to obtain affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy resources to meet their increasing energy demand. Individuals who live in poverty and, consequently, poor housing disproportionately lack access to affordable clean energy services and clean cooking fuels.16, 17, 18, 19 Affordable and clean energy services are a crucial input to supporting the provision of basic needs such as food, lighting, use of appliances and water.20 Energy access policies and new technologies are steadily leading to progress, as the number of people without access to electricity fell below 1 billion in 2017.21 Despite these success stories, progress on providing electricity access remains uneven. The outlook for electrification shows that the world is not yet on track to achieve universal access by 2030.22 In 2016, 3 billion people, or over 40% of the world’s population, were still cooking with polluting fuels (e.g., coal or wood) and stoves, leading to high levels of household air pollution. The health and well-being of this population is adversely affected by the lack of clean cooking fuels. This is especially true for women and children, who are typically the main users of household energy. The solution is in transitioning to cleaner fuels and technologies, and improvements in stove efficiency.23, 24

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SDG 7: References

22 Ibid.