Developing countries rapidly move to cut carbon while the West remains apathetic
Developing countries are taking the lead in implementing policies designed to enable the switch to sustainable energy by 2030 according to the World Bank.
Some 40 per cent of 111 countries surveyed had strong policies to help improve people’s access to reliable, affordable and clean power including China, India, Vietnam, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Turkey.
“We are in a race against time to reach our 2030 energy goals and to get there we will need a lot of investment and a lot of money – both private and public,” said Riccardo Puliti, senior director and head of energy and extractives at the World Bank.
But richer developed countries must do far more to promote energy efficiency or global warming will continue for longer with serious consequences, a leading energy group said.
Investors and insurers with more than $2.8tr (£2.3tr) in assets have called on the Group of 20 economies to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 despite US doubts about climate change.
G20 nations should work “to accelerate green investment and reduce climate risk”, they wrote on the eve of a two-day meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Germany to prepare a summit in Hamburg in July.
A series of energy goals have been enshrined in a set of international sustainable development goals (SDGs) agreed in 2015 to curb poverty and end hunger.
Giving people access to power creates jobs, improves healthcare and education, and makes communities safer to live in, Puliti said.
The energy goals also underpin the 2015 Paris climate change agreement to keep global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels by reducing emissions.
However, many countries are lagging in the area of improving energy efficiency, according to the survey.
“Energy efficiency should come first. It’s the most obvious, cheapest, easiest, fastest way to get onto a pathway for SDG 7 success but also on a pathway for implementation of the Paris Agreement,” said Rachel Kyte, head of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll), and special representative of the UN secretary-general.
Richer countries, in particular, need to do more, she said.
“The developed world has a responsibility to get its act together quickly because the people who are going to need more time are some of the developing countries,” Kyte said.
“The longer we take, the warmer everything is going to get ... the more economic losses we’re going to suffer and the more lives are going to be lost,” she added.
The World Bank’s survey – Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE) – was produced as part of efforts by SEforALL, a global energy partnership, to ensure universal access to modern energy, improve energy efficiency and promote renewable power.
Africa is the least electrified continent in the world, with some 600 million people living without power, yet some 40 per cent of African countries surveyed do not have strong policies to address this situation, the World Bank said.
Some exceptions include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa.
“The good news now is there is a generation of African leaders in some countries that have understood that ... their economies will not grow unless they have got reliable, affordable modern power,” Kyte said.
And cheaper technology, the discovery of large amounts of natural gas – a relatively clean fossil fuel – in the continent means “renewable energy in the mix offers them a way forward that just wasn’t there before”, she added.
Earlier this week, the Green Party said that Brexit poses a threat to UK environmental policies covering air pollution, energy efficiency and wildlife protection.
Last month, Myron Ebell, Donald Trump’s appointee to lead the transition team for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that the President could pull out of the Paris Agreement at any time by using an executive order.