KIGALI, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Closing the global energy access gap and achieving clean energy for all requires bold action to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy that is universally affordable and equitable, delegates said here Tuesday at Sustainable Energy for All Forum (SEforALL Forum).
"Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 must mean leaving no one behind. People must be at the heart of the energy transition. Our energy future must be clean and must also be just inclusive and equitable," said Damilola Ogunbiyi, the chief executive officer of Sustainable Energy for All at the opening ceremony of the forum which is hosted by Rwanda from May 17 to 19.
The forum, which is the first of its kind to take place on the African continent, was held in a hybrid format (virtual and physical). It has attracted thousands of delegates including global leaders, policymakers and youth representatives to drive action toward achieving a global clean energy transition.
Ogunbiyi emphasized that bold and urgent action is needed to end energy poverty and secure climate justice for billions of people around the world, adding nearly 759 million people still live without electricity and 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic clean cooking solutions.
"We must act now to save our planet from climate change and we must also protect the most vulnerable from its effects," said Ogunbiyi, also Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All.
According to her, developing countries need the world's support through the clean energy offers to build energy systems that actually support their economic growth.
"We must recognize that addressing energy poverty, enabling a clean future and ensuring development and economic opportunities must go together," said Ogunbiyi.
The 2022 SEforALL Forum will take stock of progress, showcase success and identify solutions to achieve faster, broader gains toward sustainable energy for all.
"By integrating sustainable energy in pandemic recovery plans, we can accelerate the transition to clean power. But the transition must be just and equitable. It should align with Africa's development priorities and aspirations to ensure no one is left behind," said Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the event.
He stressed that Africa cannot carry the burden alone, especially given that its emissions did not create a climate emergency, and Africa will be part of the solution.
Kagame said that building an enabling environment to attract investment in renewables is important because Africa is especially vulnerable to the threats of climate change.
"We need to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and transform energy production. In many countries, solar and wind are already the cheapest source of energy and the renewable energy sector generates three times as many jobs as the fossil sector," said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations in a televised message at the event.
He said that there is a need to shift to sustainable energy systems everywhere, adding the addiction to fossil fuels must end starting with a call by 2030 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members and 2040 everywhere else and leaving no one behind.
The SEforALL Forum serves as a platform to broker new partnerships, spur investment, address challenges and drive action toward realizing Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) and a global clean energy transition. ■