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Sustainable energy: World Bank calls for faster adoption to meet 2030 goals

Green nature landscape with planet Earth
The World Bank is tracking the universal route of sustainable energy which aims to double the role of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030

The world is heading in the right direction to achieve universal access to sustainable energy by 2030 but must move faster, says a new report that tracks the progress of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative.

In a statement released yesterday by the World Bank, the report – ‘Progress Toward Sustainable Energy: Global Tracking Framework 2015’ – finds that 1.1 billion people in the world still live without electricity and almost 3 billion still cook using polluting fuels like kerosene, wood, charcoal and dung.

The World Bank stated that the report is the second in a series that tracks the world’s progress toward SE4All’s three goals of universal energy access, doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all to be met by 2030.

While the first edition, released in 2013, measured progress between 1990 and 2010, this edition focuses on 2010 to 2012.

In that two-year period, the number of people without access to electricity declined from 1.2 billion to 1.1 billion, a rate of progress much faster than the 1990-2010 period.

In total 222 million people gained access to electricity during this period, higher than the population increase of 138 million people.

These gains were concentrated in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, and mainly in urban areas. The global electrification rate increased from 83% in 2010 to 85% in 2012.

3 step plan to a zero carbon future

In another new report, the World Bank Group has identified a strategy that countries can employ to ensure a zero carbon future.

The study outlines three steps countries can follow to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases to zero and stabilise climate change. It states: “Plan for the end goal, not just the short-term, get prices right as part of a broad policy package that triggers changes in investment and behaviour, and smooth the transition for those most affected.”

According to the World Bank, the actions necessary to make the transition to zero net emissions are affordable if governments start today, states the report ‘Decarbonising Development: Three Steps to a Zero Carbon Future’ but it warns that the costs will grow if action is delayed. Waiting until 2030 would increase the global cost by 50%.

Reducing greenhouse gases

The zero carbon report is designed to help policymakers in both developed and developing countries set priorities as they reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a path to zero net global emissions.

That starts with planning for the future by investing today in the research and technology that will be needed decades from now and by avoiding decisions that can lock in high-carbon growth patterns and infrastructure investments that will become obsolete in a low-carbon future.

The report describes how countries can reach zero net emissions by shifting from fossil fuels to clean energy as their source of electricity, and then scaling up electricity use.

Improving energy efficiency is important to help lower demand, and keeping natural carbon sinks healthy through good forest and land management helps offset remaining emissions by absorbing and storing carbon.

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.