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Sustainable energy for all: a balance of objectives

Research reports

Written by Andrew Scott

Research reports

​This briefing paper summarises the state of the debate on progress in energy for sustainable development and outlines key challenges for policy in the future, particularly in relation to the three objectives of the United Nations Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Initiative:
  • ensuring universal access to modern energy services;
  • doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency;
  • doubling the share of renewable energy in the global mix.

Key messages:

  • Energy plays a key role in economic growth and poverty reduction, and has been described as “the golden thread that weaves together the economy, the environment and equity”. Yet 1.4 billion people still have no access to electricity and 2.7 billion people lack clean and  safe energy for cooking.
  • There has been major progress in energy access in recent decades: between 1990 and 2008, around 2 billion people gained access to electricity. The expansion of the use of renewable energy and improvements in energy efficiency have been stronger in developing  countries than in developed countries over this same period.
  • Both industrialised and developing countries need to develop long-term low carbon development plans to deliver green growth and build lower-carbon energy systems. And an investment of just 3% more in modern energy services would meet the basic energy needs of  around 33% of the world’s population.
Andrew Scott