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Euroviews. G7 still has an opportunity to make good on its energy pledge

Specialised workers achieve maintenance works on a power pole in Pfungstadt, June 2024
Specialised workers achieve maintenance works on a power pole in Pfungstadt, June 2024 Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
By Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All
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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

The G7 must set an example and build momentum for raised ambition and action worldwide – failure to do so risks undermining our collective energy security, economic development, and attainment of the global 2030 goals, Damilola Ogunbiyi writes.

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Given the urgent time frame to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, more must be done. 

The Group of Seven (G7), the informal grouping of the world’s largest developed economies, will be pivotal in leading the international community in prioritising ending energy poverty and accelerating a clean energy transition in line with Sustainable Development Goal 7, which calls for clean and affordable energy for all.

Indeed, the G7 Leaders’ Summit is set to take place in Fasano, Italy, and this week is a watershed moment for achieving this collective target.

All eyes will be on the leaders of the G7 and how, through their efforts, a just and inclusive energy transition can be achieved.

If we go by what we saw at last year’s summit that took place in Hiroshima, where the G7 leaders committed to driving the transition to clean energy economies through cooperation within and beyond the G7, many people around the world are keen to see how this promise will be taken forward to accelerate emission reduction, including supporting the transitions of emerging and developing economies.

Targets to fall short?

Moreover, the G7’s commitment to expanding renewable energy globally and the subsequent signing on to the pledge to triple renewable capacity at COP28 last year will come under sharp focus as recent studies show that their collective targets would fall short and only double renewables. 

Two months ago, there was another important meeting of the block. The G7 Ministers of Climate, Energy and the Environment met in Turin and committed to phasing out existing unabated coal power generation in their energy systems during the first half of the 2030s or in a timeline consistent with keeping a limit of 1.5°C temperature rise within reach and in line with countries’ net-zero pathways.

Given the rise of renewables as a viable power source, this goal is not ambitious enough and sends the wrong message to nations outside the G7, particularly emerging and developing economies.
A generator and its blades are prepared for transport to the open ocean for the South Fork Wind farm in New London, CT, December 2023
A generator and its blades are prepared for transport to the open ocean for the South Fork Wind farm in New London, CT, December 2023AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Given the rise of renewables as a viable power source, this goal is not ambitious enough and sends the wrong message to nations outside the G7, particularly emerging and developing economies.

The G7 has promised to work for an international financial system that delivers more effectively and mobilises all sources of financing, including official development assistance, domestic resources, and private investment, making finance flows consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

However, global investments in clean energy, for example, continue to be limited to developed countries; studies show that in 2024, the share of global clean energy investment in emerging and developing economies outside China is expected to remain around 15% of the total. As a result, Africa and parts of Asia continue to receive little clean energy financing.

What is on our to-do?

So, what must be done differently if we are to raise ambition and deliver on our 2030 and mid-century goals?

There is a need for greater support for initiatives like the Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs) that G7 members have supported in countries such as South Africa and Indonesia.

We must go beyond a few countries and support more of these plans. Increasing investments in infrastructure and enabling energy access through different supporting measures requires a deeper understanding of different countries' respective contexts, unique characteristics and circumstances to deploy finance in the best and most effective way.

The world continues to fall short in its efforts to achieve universal access to clean cooking by 2030, with disparities in clean cooking access rates persisting across different regions.

This could indeed be the G7’s low-hanging fruit, where, in a relatively short span of time, it can guarantee that over 2 billion people will have clean cooking technologies and fuels.
carries firewood home to prepare breakfast in Kiambu, Kenya, May 2024
carries firewood home to prepare breakfast in Kiambu, Kenya, May 2024AP Photo/Andrew Kasuku

Estimates range from an annual investment of $8 billion (€7.7bn) to achieve SDG7’s clean cooking targets to as high as $158bn (€146.9bn) a year to support a full transition to modern energy cooking services by 2030.

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This amount is a small fraction compared to the negative health, gender-based and climate impacts that will cost an estimated $2.4 trillion (€2.2tr) per annum through to 2030. This could indeed be the G7’s low-hanging fruit, where, in a relatively short span of time, it can guarantee that over 2 billion people will have clean cooking technologies and fuels.

The G7 has an opportunity to support countries in moving beyond primary ore exports and embracing higher-value activities such as mineral processing.

This scaling up of renewable energy manufacturing capabilities has the potential to spur economic development, providing greater access to renewable energy technologies, job creation and energy security for the EU block and developing countries. 

This could help achieve many global goals simultaneously while guaranteeing greater access to renewable energy technologies at cost-competitive rates.

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Build momentum for increased ambition

Finally, private lending to low-income countries has significantly dwindled, leaving the World Bank and other multilateral development banks the lender of last resort for many countries — particularly the poorest.

It is worth noting that a month ago, the World Bank and the African Development Bank Group unveiled a new ambitious effort to provide at least 300 million people in Africa with electricity access by 2030, demonstrating the critical role that these multilateral development banks continue to play.

With ballooning debt payments pulling scarce resources from development priorities in the world’s low- and middle-income countries, the G7 must step up and replenish the International Development Association, the World Bank’s concessional financing arm that offers grants and cheap loans to the world’s poorest countries.

This will complement other G7 initiatives, especially those linked to energy access, transport, education, health, private sector development, and social protection. 

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The leaders of the G7 have expressed their determination to meet the global challenges of our time and set the course for a better future, but this must move from mere rhetoric to tangible action.

The G7 must set an example and build momentum for increased ambition and action worldwide — failure to do so risks undermining our collective energy security, economic development, and attainment of the global 2030 goals.

Damilola Ogunbiyi is the CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (UN SRSG) for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at view@euronews.com to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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