Publication - Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report 2023

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Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report 2023
International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO)
Published in
June 2023
The 2023 edition of Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report warns that current efforts are not enough to achieve SDG 7 on time. There has been some progress on specific elements of the SDG 7 agenda – for example, the increased rate of using renewables in the power sector – but progress is insufficient to reach the targets set forth in the SDGs.

Key findings of the report

In 2010, 84% of the world’s population had access to electricity. This increased to 91% in 2021, meaning more than a billion people gained access over that period. However, the growth pace of access slowed in 2019–2021 compared to previous years. Rural electrification efforts contributed to this progress, but a large gap within urban areas remains. In 2021, 567 million people in sub-Saharan Africa did not have access to electricity, accounting for more than 80% of the global population without access. The access deficit in the region stayed almost the same as in 2010. The world remains off track to achieve universal access to clean cooking by 2030. Up to 2.3 billion people still use polluting fuels and technologies for cooking, largely in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The use of traditional biomass also means households spend up to 40 hours a week gathering firewood and cooking, which prohibits women from pursuing employment or participating in local decision-making bodies and children from going to school. According to the 2019 WHO estimates, 3.2 million premature deaths each year were attributable to household air pollution created by using polluting fuels and technologies for cooking. Renewable electricity use in global consumption has grown from 26.3% in 2019 to 28.2% in 2020, the largest single-year increase since the start of tracking progress for the SDGs. Efforts to increase renewables’ share in heating and transport, which represent more than three-quarters of global energy consumption, remain off target to achieve 1.5oC climate objectives. Energy intensity – the measure of how much energy the global economy uses per dollar of GDP – improved from 2010–2020 by 1.8% annually. This is higher than the 1.2% improvement from the previous decades. However, the rate of energy intensity improvement has slowed in recent years and dropped to 0.6% in 2020. This makes it the worst year for energy intensity improvement since the global financial crisis, albeit largely due to pandemic-related restrictions, which may indicate only a temporary setback. Annual improvements through 2030 must now average 3.4% to meet the SDG target of 7.3.

International public financial flows in support of clean energy in developing countries stand at US$ 10.8 billion in 2021, 35% less than the 2010–2019 average and only about 40% of the 2017 peak of US$ 26.4 billion. In 2021, 19 countries received 80% of the commitments.