Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report 2023

On June 6, 2023, Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report 2023 was jointly released by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report provides important insights into the progress and challenges related to Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7).

Key Findings

  • Impediments to SDG 7: Factors such as an uncertain macroeconomic outlook, high levels of inflation, currency fluctuations, debt distress in many countries, and lack of financing, supply chain bottlenecks, tighter fiscal circumstances, and soaring prices for materials are hindering the realization of SDG 7 globally.
  • Insufficient Progress in Universal Access to Electricity & Clean Cooking: The report highlights that universal access to electricity and clean cooking facilities in developing economies is progressing inadequately. Projections indicate that SDG 7 will not be achieved by 2030, particularly in terms of universal access to electricity and clean cooking.
  • Renewable Energy Growth: While the uptake of renewable energy (target 7.2) has increased since 2010, there is a need for substantial scaling up of efforts to meet the targets set by SDG 7. The current rate of improvement in energy efficiency (target 7.3) is falling short of the targeted increase of 2.6% annually between 2010 and 2030.
  • To compensate for the slower progress, the trend of improvement in energy intensity must exceed 3.4% globally from 2020 to 2030.
  • Decline in Financial Flows: Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, financial resources were more than a third lower since 2020 compared to the average of the previous decade (2010-2019). This decreasing trend in financial flows, coupled with concentration in a few countries, may delay the achievement of SDG 7, particularly for the least-developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states.
  • Global Access to Electricity and Clean Cooking: The global access to electricity increased from 84% in 2010 to 91% in 2021, with the number of people without electricity nearly halving during that period. However, the pace of growth slowed to 0.6 percentage points annually during 2019-21.
  • Access to clean cooking improved from 2.9 billion people in 2010 to 2.3 billion in 2021, but achieving universal access by 2030 remains a challenge.
  • Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa: The report projects that if current trends continue, nearly six out of ten people without access to clean cooking in 2030 would be residing in Sub-Saharan Africa. The ongoing impact of COVID-19 and soaring energy prices may lead to a reversal in the transition to clean cooking, with an estimated 100 million people reverting to using traditional biomass.
  • Insufficient Share of Renewable Energy: In 2020, the share of renewable energy in total final energy consumption was only 19.1% (or 12.5% excluding traditional use of biomass), which is only slightly higher than the 16% recorded a decade earlier.
  • The report emphasizes the need for increased attention to enhancing renewables-based electricity supply in developing countries.