UN expects urgent actions, commitments at energy dialogue

The High-level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE), which will be convened by United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres, at the summit level at the request of the General Assembly, is an historic opportunity to accelerate action on clean, affordable energy for all Sustainable Development Goal (SDG7).

It is the first gathering of leaders in more than 40 years at the UN solely devoted to energy issues scheduled to hold tomorrow in New York, United States.

Global leaders are expected to act to increase energy access while reducing emissions at the first UN Energy Summit in 40 years.

The energy sector currently accounts for almost three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions. While countries where many people lack energy access may contribute little today to the emissions that cause climate change, achieving access for everyone to sufficient electricity for productive use would cause their emissions to increase significantly if that energy comes from fossil fuels, such as coal-fired power and continued use of diesel-powered generators.

For the Dialogue, governments, businesses, foundations, cities, and international, civil society and youth organizations were urged to present voluntary commitments in the form of “Energy Compacts” to help achieve clean, affordable energy for all by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050, targets set out in SDG7 and in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The virtual event will have two main outcomes: a global roadmap with recommended actions and milestones to accelerate achievement of SDG7 by 2030; and voluntary commitments from Member States and other stakeholders in the form of “Energy Compacts”, setting out actions planned to advance clean, affordable energy for all by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

In a statement, Wednesday, the UN expects significant new commitments for financing clean energy, increasing renewables and improving access to electricity. Such announcements aim to trigger a major step forward in addressing both energy poverty and net-zero emissions.

The energy summit will be a crucial step in building an international coalition for action on energy, and will highlight how some countries and businesses are moving to address the energy crisis.

The commitments will drive even greater actions to close the huge gaps in ambition and financing required to meet the energy needs of all people while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.

Commitments will drive even greater actions to close the huge gaps in ambition and financing required to meet the energy needs of all people while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.

Global roadmap

Among the Dialogue outcomes will be a global roadmap for actions and timelines needed to meet energy targets by 2030. The roadmap involves inputs from expert working groups and was discussed at Ministerial-level forums in June.

Actions set out in the roadmap include accelerating the energy transition by tripling investments for renewable energy and quadrupling the rate of energy efficiency improvement, and shifting fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy, while creating new green jobs and ensuring a just, inclusive transition.

Without deep energy decarbonization, the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement will fall quickly out of reach, with Guterres insisting that decisive action must be a political priority in order to achieve access to clean energy for the 760 million people who currently live without electricity, and for the 2.6 billion people still relying on harmful solid fuels for cooking.

Energy compacts

Over 135 Energy Compacts including a number of significant commitments already submitted from governments; businesses; UN and international organizations; foundations; financial institutions; and civil society groups including several youth networks, from all regions. Additional Compacts are expected to be registered in the months ahead, as momentum grows and partnerships are expanded, with progress tracked through the 2030 target year.

“A wide range of stakeholders are making a serious push towards clean energy access and transition – governments, businesses, civil society leaders – but much more is needed to achieve both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement,” said Dialogue Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. “The High-level Dialogue is coming at a time when the climate crisis is already dramatically impacting millions of people, and we will not be able to meet our climate goals unless we solve energy poverty and make clean energy affordable and accessible.”

“Remarkably, 1 in 10 people across the world cannot flick a light switch on in their homes in 2021, yet the burgeoning renewable energy revolution will bring power to millions of homes, hospitals and schools for the first time ever,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, Co-Chair of the Dialogue. “However, it is not simply a transition that will improve the lives of those people who are off-the-grid — everyone will benefit if we work together to create a green economy powered by clean energy. It will drastically drive down carbon emissions, an intrinsic part of the decisive climate action we now need to take — and deliver millions of new green jobs and livelihoods at the same time.”

“At the UN High-level Dialogue, we will see bold commitments put forward as Energy Compacts as well as large financial commitments from partner institutions. We need more of these to ensure we leave no one behind and that we transition in a just and inclusive manner to net zero by 2050,” said his Co-Chair, Damilola Ogunbiyi, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. “These commitments will be tracked, and partnerships expanded over the next decade, as we continue to accelerate action and innovation to meet the energy challenges we face.”

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