About 789 million people in developing countries have no electricity at all, three-quarters of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. The Secretary-General of the United Nations described this as an injustice and an obstacle to achieving sustainable development.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres drew attention to the need for all countries to provide electricity for all. But he added, "This energy must be clean and renewable, so as not to contribute to dangerously warming our planet. This means a strong commitment from all governments."

Focus on Africa

The Secretary-General’s speech came during his participation in a virtual round table on clean energy in the presence of the President of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and representatives of countries and organizations that play a key role in the success of the Energy Transitions Council, which aims to accelerate the transition from coal to clean energy, focusing on developing countries, especially in Africa.

"We must invest in an affordable renewable energy future for all people everywhere, especially Africa," said Mr. Guterres. "Finance must flow toward renewables, fair transition programs, diversified economic plans, green bonds and other tools that advance sustainability.".

On her part, Dr. confirmed. Amani Abdelaziz, Commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure of the African Union, said that there are still about 900 million people in Africa who depend on coal and wood for cooking. "This is not only an economic problem but also an ethical one," she said.

Inclusion and sustainability

To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, countries need an urgent transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and developing countries support the transition. A key priority for COP26, chaired by the United Kingdom in November, is to focus on the need for a rapid transition to green, affordable, and resilient energy systems, a fair transition, and green jobs.

“The transition to clean energy must accelerate at least fourfold if we are to reach this target, taking into account improving access to electricity everywhere in the world,” said COP26 President Alok Sharma.

The transition to clean energy must accelerate at least fourfold if we are to reach the target -- COP 26 President

For his part, the Secretary-General said that today's discussions have two clear objectives:

  • inclusiveness and sustainability, stressing the need to end fossil fuel subsidies: "We need a commitment not to build more coal-fired power plants anywhere."
  • Mr. Antonio Guterres renewed his call for developed countries to fulfill their long-term pledges to provide $100 billion annually to developing countries to support efforts to adapt to climate change and mitigate its impact.

Roadmap to clean energy

The International Energy Agency has announced its first roadmap to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and will present its report on 18 May to contribute to the Conference of the Parties.

“The good news is that China, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Japan have all come out with ambitious national goals for 2050. I have no doubt that US President-elect Joe Biden will announce that the United States will join this forum,” said Fatih Birol, the agency's executive director. These countries contribute about 60% of global emissions.

It states that to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C emissions must fall by 7.6% each year between now and 2030. This translates to a 6% annual reduction in energy production from fossil fuels.

"An opportunity to change our world"

The Secretary-General stressed that all public and private financial flows must support the goals of the Paris climate agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in this context, he appealed to the private sector as a proponent of renewable energy.

He said that there is an opportunity to change our world. But to achieve this, international solidarity must exist, with Africa and developing countries at the center of participation: “The year ahead will be decisive, not only in overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic but also in facing the challenges of the climate.”

The United Nations sets building a global coalition for carbon neutrality by mid-century as a major goal this year. The Secretary-General of the United Nations indicated that all countries need to develop medium-term goals and plans that are credible and in line with this goal.

How to bring affordable, sustainable electricity to Africa | Rose M. Mutiso


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