Seven challenges to achieving sustainable energy

Lynn Wagner writes on IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub about a keynote address from Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) about the challenges we face in achieving sustainable energy. This is an important message for all.

 

SEforALL CEO Outlines Challenges in Achieving Sustainable Energy for All

Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), has highlighted seven challenges to achieving sustainable energy, emphasizing the areas in which policy innovations are needed to provide reliable, resilient and clean energy by 2030.

In her keynote address marking the launch of the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP) at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Kyte said there is a need for a step change in policies in order to deliver sustainable energy for all. She added that the pathway to success goes through success in South Asia, which is a focus of ISEP.

The seven areas for policy advances that Kyte highlighted as priorities if we are to achieve the international community’s goals for 2030 are as follows:

  • First, she noted that we have made progress in identifying the one billion people without access to electricity, but we need to develop business models to deliver electricity to them, including by identifying the “missing middle” level for finance.
  • Second, she noted that progress in increasing energy productivity should be a priority, and requires a total government approach with support from the highest levels. On this issue, she said efforts to enhance industrial-use efficiency, use efficiency of new buildings, retrofiting existing buildings, and increased appliance efficiency should be addressed.
  • Third, on carbon capture, storage and/or use, she said policy around carbon use is the most exciting area for attention.
  • Fourth, Kyte noted that the coal mining vocation encompasses cultural advantages, and policy attention to coal should be focused on identifying transition policies that will address the needs of coal mining communities.
  • Fifth, on finance, she highlighted the need for infrastructure finance and said one challenge is for development banks to be more risk tolerant. She rejected the idea that underperforming pension funds could be unlocked to provide such funding, and highlighted a recent SEforALL publication titled, ‘Energizing Finance,’ which finds that only half of the needed finance to achieve SDG 7 is flowing.
  • Sixth, Kyte said mindsets, institutions and transparency should be addressed. She noted that country planning for achieving the SDGs and the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement on climate change are better than the previous generation of national plans, and highlighted that countries have been able to learn from their neighbors. She stressed the need for policy coherence, including through the reduction of subsidies, to allow developing countries to make progress. She also emphasized that investors, shareholders and regulators need to be on the same page.
  • Seventh, Kyte stressed the importance of pursuing policies that embrace the principles of universality and inclusivity, and noted the need to consider how services could be bundled for the poor and to ensure that services reach women.

In conclusion, Kyte said “time is our enemy,” and we have no time to lose.

 

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