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Senior UN official urges more effort on provision of universal access to energy

By Hou Liqiang | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-12-05 18:00

Li Junhua, the United Nations' under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs, has called for strengthened political will, investment and multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve universal energy access and accelerate clean energy transitions.

He made the remarks at an event with the theme "Global Energy Interconnection: Advancing Inclusive, Just and Resilient Energy Transition" held on the sidelines of the COP28 UN climate change conference in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

The event was jointly held by several organizations, including the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization, a nongovernmental, nonprofit international organization from China, and the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"The urgency of our mission cannot be overstated, as we stand at a pivotal moment in human history," Li said via a video link.

The SDG Summit in September demonstrated that, despite some advances, most of the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals had veered significantly off track, he said, adding that, at the halfway mark, only about 15 percent of SDG targets are on track to be met by 2030.

At the same time, the global average temperature had risen by 1.2 C compared with the pre-industrial level, Li said.

Globally, 675 million people still lack access to electricity, and 2.3 billion people are still using polluting fuels to cook.

He said energy is pivotal to achieving both the 2030 agenda and the objectives of the Paris Agreement, with progress toward SDG No 7 — ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all — able to catalyze progress in many other areas.

Li said sustainable modern energy services are essential for addressing climate change, promoting environmental protection, reducing poverty, spurring economic growth and providing access to quality public healthcare and education.

"It will require strengthened political will, increased levels of investment and scaled-up multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve universal energy access and accelerate clean energy transitions," he said.

Li said the interconnection of global energy infrastructure can significantly contribute to this by accelerating the development of clean energy in countries around the world, while reducing the costs of energy services.

"To realize that potential, it is urgent for all of us to pull together," he said.

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