Historically, it has been difficult for countries to combine their energy access targets with clean energy ambitions, but that is no longer the case, according to UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.
Any national economic planning institution, any advocate for a strategic approach to an economy’s future competitiveness, he said on Wednesday at a Devex event during the 76th United Nations General Assembly, cannot seriously argue that you should invest in fossil fuel, carbon-intensive energy infrastructure.
The United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Energy, which begins on Friday, is the first such gathering at the UN in more than 40 years, and the timing is “not an accident,” according to Steiner. It reflects a realization of how important energy is to overall development, as well as a recognition that the energy sector as a whole, or the energy foundations of our economies, is going to undergo the most significant period of change in possibly the last 100 years.
One of the main points of contention in the climate and energy access debates is a demand by some wealthy countries that low-income countries, particularly those in Africa, pursue renewable energy rather than new fossil-fuel-related investments, despite the fact that they themselves rely on these sources of energy. A two-tiered system has formed.
Lower-income countries should not be penalized or constrained to renewable energy simply because they want to increase their power generation, according to Steiner. After all, high-income countries have been constructing fossil-fuel projects for nearly a century.
Governments observe markets and trends, but want to have a variety of energy kinds at their disposal, he noted.
Natural gas is a transitional fuel in the developed world, and he believes it will be in the developing world as well. Still, he stated that the future of energy is definitely a decarbonized energy framework and that the world is rapidly going in that direction.
The UNDP, for its part, has a new strategic plan with some lofty goals, including helping 500 million people obtain access to renewable energy in the next three years.
He believes that solving the issue of energy access is critical for developing countries and that putting the clean energy revolution to work for energy access is a critical component of a modern competitive economy. UNDP advises nations on emissions regulations, national climate strategies, and energy strategies through its policy work. It’s also assisting countries in determining how to attain development goals at the lowest possible cost in terms of pollution, environmental degradation, or indeed leaving too many people behind.