The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed progress towards universal access to electricity and clean cooking fuels and technology, and fallout from the war in Ukraine could result in further setbacks, according to a UN-backed report, published on Wednesday.
Currently, 733 million people worldwide still do not have access to electricity, and 2.4 billion people still cook using fuels detrimental to their health and the environment.
At the current rate of progress, 670 million people will remain without electricity by 2030 – 10 million more than projected last year.
The findings are from the 2022 edition of Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report, which monitors global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG7) of ensuring affordable modern energy supply for everyone by 2030.
Step up financing
The study was produced by UN entities and partners, known as the SDG7 custodian agencies, who urge governments and policymakers to step up action.
“International public financing for renewable energy needs to accelerate, especially in the poorest, most vulnerable countries. We have failed to support those most in need,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), one of the partners.
“With only eight years left to achieve universal access to affordable and sustainable energy, we need radical actions to accelerate the increase of international public financial flows and distribute them in a more equitable manner, so 733 million people who are currently left behind can enjoy the benefits of clean energy access.”
Vulnerable countries affected
COVID-19 impacts such as lockdowns, supply chain disruptions, and diversion of fiscal resources to keep food and fuel prices affordable, have affected progress towards achieving SDG 7.
The world’s most vulnerable countries have been particularly affected. Nearly 90 million people in Asia and Africa, who previously gained access to electricity, can no longer afford to pay for their basic energy needs.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has compounded the situation, as it has led to uncertainty in global oil and gas markets, as well as soaring energy prices.
The report said Africa remains the least electrified in the world, with 568 million people without access. Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of the global population without electricity rose from 71 per cent in 2018 to 77 per cent in 2020, while most other regions saw declines.
Progress and setbacks
Furthermore, although 70 million people globally gained access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, this progress was not enough to keep pace with population growth, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The report found that despite continued disruptions in economic activity and supply chains, renewable energy was the only energy source to grow through the pandemic.
Yet, many countries most in need of electricity have been left behind – a situation that was further aggravated by a decrease in international financial flows for a second consecutive year.
SDG7 also includes targets towards energy efficiency. From 2010 to 2019, global annual improvements in energy intensity averaged around 1.9 percent, which is well below the levels needed to both meet the targets and to make up for lost ground.
Call for commitment
The SDG7 custodians are IRENA and the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
They recalled that the UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy, held last September, brought together governments and stakeholders to accelerate action to achieve a sustainable energy future that leaves no one behind.
The partners urged the international community and policymakers to safeguard gains toward SDG 7, and to remain committed to continued action towards affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. They must also maintain focus on countries needing the most support.
For people and planet
Dr. Maria Neira of the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized why access to clean cooking is critical.
She said millions of people are killed through heart disease, stroke, cancer, and pneumonia because they still rely on dirty cooking fuels and technologies which are major sources of air pollution.
“Women and children are particularly at risk – they spend the most time in and around the home and therefore carry the heaviest burden to their health and well-being,” said Dr. Neira, Director of WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health.
“Transitioning to clean and sustainable energy will not only contribute to make people healthier, it will also protect our planet and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” she added.
Greenpeace tells Big Oil to stay clear of Congo’s carbon bomb
The world’s largest oil and gas companies are urged by Greenpeace to sit out a major oil and gas auction in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the end of July. In letters sent to oil companies worldwide, Greenpeace warns of an ominous auction at the expense of biodiversity and global climate. The massive auction – fiercely opposed by local communities – overlaps peatlands and several Protected Areas.
Yesterday, DRC’s Oil Minister Didier Budimbu announced the auction covers 27 oil and three gas fields, exceeding the government’s decision in April, potentially without a legal mandate. The April plan encompassed an area more than 240,000 km² – an area about 300 times the size of Nairobi. The decision came only five months after the signing of a $500 million deal at the COP26 to help protect DRC’s forests with the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI).
“This auction not only makes a mockery of DRC’s posturing as a solution country for the climate crisis – it exposes Congolese people to corruption, violence, and poverty that inevitably come with the curse of oil, as well as more heat waves and less rains for all Africans, said Irene Wabiwa, International Project Lead for the Congo forest campaign at Greenpeace Africa.
In a field trip last week to four of the designated oil blocks, Greenpeace Africa’s forest campaigners collected testimonies from local communities that were all shocked about the prospective auction of their lands to oil companies. Some communities, such as those living around the Upemba national park, see the prospective oil exploration as a direct threat to the lake they rely on for generations and are planning to resist it.
In a letter sent to oil and gas companies in Africa, Europe and the US, Greenpeace warns of oil blocks overlapping carbon-rich peatlands. In a recent article, Prof. Simon Lewis of the University of Leeds notes four blocks overlapping peatlands that store 5.8 billion tons of carbon – that is equivalent to more than 15 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2021. According to the International Energy Agency, any new fossil fuel project today would undermine reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and this auction would be particularly toxic.
“The international community and the Congolese government must end the neocolonial scramble for African fossil fuels by restricting oil companies’ access to the DRC, focusing instead on ending energy poverty through supporting clean, decentralised renewable energies” added Irene Wabiwa.
Contrary to repeated claims by Minister Budimbu that none of the oil and gas blocks to be auctioned lies within Protected Areas, official maps show that nine do. The Minister acknowledged his miscommunication on 13 June. Following the augmentation of the auction, the updated number of blocks overlapping Protected Areas may be as high as 12.
It remains unclear which oil companies are planning to bid in the auction. In a petition launched by Greenpeace with local and international partners, almost 100,000 people call on Congolese President Felix Tschisekedi not to sacrifice the rainforest to the oil industry.
Greenpeace Africa calls on governments in the continent to put the interest of their people over the greed of rich nations and their multinational corporations by accelerating investments in renewable, clean and decentralised energy. And urges all oil and gas companies to refrain from participating in the neocolonial scramble for African fossil fuels.
Waste incineration and ‘recycled carbon fuel’, putting stokes in the renewable energy wheel
Today the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) – European Parliaments’ lead committee on the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) – called for the Member States to take measures to ensure that energy from biomass is produced in a way that minimises distortive effects on the raw material market and harmful impacts on biodiversity, the environment and the climate. To that end, Member States shall take into account the waste hierarchy and the cascading principle.
As part of the measures, it requires the Member States to terminate support for the production of energy generated from the incineration of waste if the separate collection and the waste hierarchy obligations outlined in the Waste Framework Directive have not been complied with.
Janek Vähk, Climate, Energy and Air Pollution Programme Coordinator: “Although a step in the right direction, the proposed criteria is a weak qualifier, given that, at incineration plants, the ‘biodegradable waste’, is never combusted without fossil-derived materials present. Thus, it remains possible for ‘renewable energy’ to be generated while emitting large quantities of fossil-derived CO2. Incineration plants are already the most carbon intense source of power in some Member States”.
Vähk added, “We call for the criteria for the use of wastes to be improved so that no support for renewable energy is offered for the combustion of mixed waste”.
The committee also has decided to keep recycled carbon fuels – i.e. potentially plastic based fuels – as part of the Renewable Energy Directive, allowing non-renewable energy sources to contribute towards the EU renewables targets. A recent study showed that plastic-derived fuel produces higher exhaust emissions compared to diesel.
Lauriane Veillard, Policy Officer on Chemical Recycling and Plastic-to-Fuels: “Why does the European Parliament keep recycled carbon fuels as part of Renewable Energy Directive, when the definition itself recognizes the non-renewable sources of these fuels? This is greenwashing and will strongly undermine efforts to decarbonise the transport sector. We call on co-legislators to fully exclude the use of fossil based-fuels as part of the RED.”
Impacts Of Nuclear Waste Disposal
Nuclear energy has long been regarded as an excellent option to provide the electricity needed to heat and light our houses. Without emitting greenhouse gases, it can produce electricity. But following several horrific accidents at nuclear power facilities throughout the globe, people are becoming increasingly aware that, if not handled wisely, nuclear power poses a severe threat to our way of life.
The storage of nuclear (radioactive) waste has also raised safety and health concerns. Fortunately, functioning nuclear power facilities now have extreme safety measures in place, making them much safer than they once were. However, they continue to produce tonnes of hazardous trash every year. The Utility Bidder greatly emphasizes the efficient disposal of nuclear energy waste.
In order to ensure that all nuclear waste is disposed of safely, carefully, and with the least amount of harm to human life possible, nuclear power plants and other businesses must adhere to several essential and stringent regulations. Nuclear waste disposal, also known as radioactive waste management, is a significant component of nuclear power generation.
However, the amount of radioactive waste left behind from nuclear power plants is relatively tiny compared to the waste produced by other energy-generating techniques, such as burning coal or gas. However, it can be expensive, and it must be done perfectly.
Nuclear waste is often stored in steel containers that are placed within a second concrete cylinder for disposal purposes. These shielding layers stop radiation from entering the environment and endangering the environment around the nuclear waste or the atmosphere.
It is a pretty simple and affordable means of keeping very hazardous compounds. For example, it doesn’t require special transportation or storage in a particular spot. However, certain risks are associated with the disposal of nuclear waste.
Because the by-products of nuclear fission have long half lifetimes, they will remain radioactive and dangerous for tens of thousands of years. It indicates that nuclear waste might be exceedingly volatile and harmful for many years if something happens to the waste cylinders in which it is kept.
That makes it relatively simple to locate hazardous nuclear waste, which means that if someone were looking for nuclear waste with bad intentions, they might very well be able to find some and use it. That is because hazardous nuclear waste is frequently not sent off to particular locations to be stored.
The question of storage is another difficulty with nuclear waste disposal that is still under discussion. Due to the difficulties involved in keeping such dangerous material that would remain radioactive for thousands of years, many alternative storage techniques have been considered throughout history. Among the ideas considered were above-ground storage, launch into space, ocean disposal, and ice-sheet disposal. Still, very few have been put into practice.
Only one was put into practice; ocean disposal, which involved discharging radioactive waste into the sea, was adopted by thirteen different nations. It makes sense that this practice is no longer used.
The potential impact of hazardous materials on plants and animals is one of the main worries that the globe has regarding the disposal of nuclear waste. Even though the trash is often tightly sealed inside enormous steel and concrete drums, accidents can still happen, and leaks might occur.
Nuclear waste can have highly detrimental impacts on life, such as developing malignant growths or transmitting genetic defects to subsequent generations of animals and plants. Therefore, improper nuclear waste disposal can significantly negatively affect the environment and endanger millions of animals and hundreds of different animal species.
The most considerable worry is the harmful consequences radiation exposure can have on the human body. Radiation’s long-term effects can potentially lead to cancer. It’s intriguing to realize that we are naturally exposed to radiation from the ground underneath us just by going about our daily lives. The “DNA” that ensures cell healing can change due to radiation.
Problems can occasionally arise when transporting nuclear waste from power plants. Accidents still happen and can have catastrophic consequences for everyone nearby, despite all the precautions taken while transporting nuclear waste. For example, if radioactive material is contained in subpar transportation casks, a minor bump or crash could cause the contents to leak and impact a large area.
People frequently scavenge for abandoned radioactive nuclear waste, a severe issue in developing countries. People will willingly expose themselves to potentially harmful quantities of radiation in some nations because there is a market for these kinds of scavenged products. Sadly, radioactive materials can be pretty volatile and lead to various issues.
People who scavenge these materials wind up in hospitals and may even pass away from complications brought on by or connected to the radioactive materials. Sadly, once someone has been exposed to radioactive materials, they can then expose other individuals to radioactive materials who have not chosen to go scavenging for nuclear garbage.
Accidents happen, even though careful disposal of nuclear waste is frequently emphasized. Unfortunately, there have been many examples throughout history where radioactive waste was not disposed of properly.
That has led to several terrible events, such as radioactive waste being dispersed by dust storms into places where people and animals lived and contaminating water sources, including ponds, rivers, and even the sea. Animals that live in or around these places or depend on lakes or ponds for survival may suffer catastrophic consequences due to these mishaps.
Also, drinking water can get poisoned, which is terrible for locals and others near the disaster’s epicenter. Nuclear waste can eventually enter reservoirs and other water sources and, from there, go to the houses of people who unknowingly drink high radioactive material.
Severe accidents occur extremely infrequently but have a significant impact on a large number of individuals. That is true even if it only seeps into the ground. There are examples of these incidents from all over the world and from all eras.
Substantial progress made in Vienna; sides focusing on Safeguards
The third day of talks between experts from Iran and the EU centered around technical and legal matters regarding the...
Giraffes, parrots, and oak trees, among many species facing extinction
Around one million species are facing extinction, according to a report from IPBES, an independent intergovernmental science and policy body...
Escalation of violence in Gaza
The ongoing and serious escalation of violence in and around Gaza between Palestinian militants and Israel has claimed the lives...
Central African Republic: Militias spreading ‘terror, insecurity’, must lay down arms
Armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) must lay down their arms and engage in political dialogue, a UN-appointed...
Winter sports in Saudi Arabia? An unproven concept except for the surveillance aspect
Temperatures in north-western Saudi Arabia, on average, seldom, if ever, drop below eight degrees Celsius except in the 2,400-metre high...
Tension prevails after Pelosi’s Visit
Already tense geopolitics are boiling and making the whole world more nervous. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has damaged International politics...
Ups And Downs of Women’s Property Rights
In the English speaking world during the first part of the 19th century, women were considered either too frivolous or...
Economy4 days ago
The Real Estate and Banking Crisis in China Is Spreading to Other Aspects of the Chinese Economy
East Asia4 days ago
BRICS – How Will the Organisation Get a ‘Second Wind’?
Intelligence4 days ago
The penetration tactics of the CIA and the Israeli Mossad and the Chinese experience
Eastern Europe4 days ago
Both Zelensky and Poroshenko Acknowledged They Came to Power Illegally
East Asia4 days ago
A Game of Brinkmanship: Pelosi’s Taiwan visit and what China is likely to do
Economy3 days ago
Policy Support Indispensable for China’s Economic and Financial Recovery
Terrorism3 days ago
With Al Qaeda down but not out, killing Zawahiri is symbolic
Middle East2 days ago
How Russia’s Policy in the Middle East and North Africa is Changing After February 24