SDG7 Affordable and clean energy. Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea

It has been 40 years since we last discussed energy at the highest level.

Today, we face a moment of truth.

Close to 760 million people still lack access to electricity.

Some 2.6 billion people lack access to clean cooking solutions.

And how we produce and use energy is the main cause of the climate crisis.

Emissions from energy account for about 75 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

So, we have a double imperative – to end energy poverty and to limit climate change.

And we have an answer that will fulfil both imperatives.

Affordable, renewable and sustainable energy for all.

This is the objective of Sustainable Development Goal 7.

Investing in clean, affordable energy for all will improve the well-being of billions of people. 

It can create the green jobs that we urgently need for COVID-19 recovery.

It will advance all the Sustainable Development Goals.

And it is the single most important solution to avert climate catastrophe.

Excellencies, dear Friends,

I see four priorities for a sustainable energy future.

First, we must close the energy access gap by 2030.

That means cutting in half the number of people without access to electricity by 2025.
And it means providing over 1 billion people with access to clean cooking solutions by 2025.  

The cost of closing the energy access gap is modest: around $35 billion dollars a year for electricity access and $25 billion dollars a year for clean cooking.  

Second, we must rapidly shift to decarbonized energy systems.

By 2030, solar and wind capacity should quadruple to respectively 630 and 390 gigawatts added annual capacity.

And we must intensify our efforts to improve energy efficiency.

There must be no new coal plants built after 2021.

OECD countries must commit to phasing out existing coal capacity by 2030, with all other countries following suit by 2040. 

There is no reason for countries or investors to finance new fossil fuel exploration, licensing or production infrastructure.

These will become stranded assets.

Clean, renewable energy solutions provide the best business opportunities.

International cooperation must be dramatically scaled up to catalyze the finance and investment needed to accelerate such energy transitions, especially in developing countries and small island developing states. 

Third, to reach universal energy access by 2030 and maintain a net-zero trajectory by mid-century, we must mobilize predictable finance at scale and promote technology transfer to the developing world.

We need to triple investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency to $5 trillion dollars a year.

And access to finance by developing countries must be simplified, facilitated and expedited.

We need to re-direct fossil fuel subsidies to renewables and put a price on carbon.

And all development banks – multilateral, regional, and national – need to help countries as they transition their economies.

Public and private finance must be urgently mobilized and deployed at scale to accelerate the global phase out of coal power generation.

Fourth, we must ensure no one is left behind in the race to a net zero future.

The global energy transition must be just, inclusive, and equitable.

No two national energy transition pathways will be identical.

Investing in renewable energy – instead of spending billions on propping up fossil fuels – can create tens of millions of good jobs and empower the most vulnerable.

However, investments will need to be made in retraining and in social safety nets.

We can and must pursue an agenda that is good for people and planet.

The commitments coming through the UN Energy-led process are a real signal of what is possible. 

Excellencies, dear Friends,

Every country, city, financial institution, company and civil society organization has a role to play in building a sustainable and equitable energy future.

I ask all of you to rise to this moment and be bold.

Demonstrate your commitment to this energy future in the form of an ‘Energy Compact,’ which can deliver on a global roadmap to achieve our goals over the next decade.

UN-Energy will continue to help drive [action] through the UN system.

Today, I call on all governments to build on international cooperation and provide the global package of support needed for a just, inclusive and sustainable energy transition that ensures renewable energy access for all.

We cannot wait another 40 years.

The age of renewable, affordable energy access for all must start today.

And I thank you.



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