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The UN warned that there is a risk of short-term energy policies that might set developing countries on a course for a high-emission and expensive energy future.
It said that, as the world charts its way forward, its plans must safeguard its commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as it raised concerns that the rising costs of energy may price out many developing countries, especially, the most vulnerable communities, from energy markets.
These countries, according to the United Nations Global Crisis Response Group (GCRG) on Food, Energy and Finance, are already bearing the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis, having experienced major setbacks on access to energy and progress on sustainable development since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report expressed fears that there could be a potential “scramble for fuel” whereby only countries paying the highest prices can access energy, adding that, governments, therefore, need the fiscal space to support their most vulnerable populations to avoid worsening levels of energy poverty or losing energy access altogether.
At the same time, without policies that balance the need for urgency and sustainability, there is a risk of short-term energy policies that might set developing countries on a course for a high-emission and expensive energy future.
As the world charts its way forward, its plans must safeguard its commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
UN secretary-general, GCRG, António Guterres, said:
“Developing countries don’t lack reasons to invest in renewables. Many of them are living with the severe impacts of the climate crisis including storms, wildfires, floods and droughts. What they lack are concrete, workable options,”
The GCRG’s third brief makes it clear that the war in Ukraine and the global energy crisis that it has caused is a stark reminder of the need for energy resilience and stronger push for the transition to renewable energy.
However, to accelerate the transition, and as outlined by the Secretary-General, policies, including social protection measures for those affected by the transition, technology, subsidies, investments and materials to support renewables need to be in place and readily available.
The brief stressed that, any short-term policies and protection measures must help mitigate the crisis, including efforts to promote energy efficiency and demand reduction, and not exacerbate it, such as blanket subsidies for fossil fuels.
In the medium-to-long-term, the world needs to double down on renewables to meet net-zero goals, tackle energy poverty, and boost and diversify the global energy mix. To that end, the brief calls for the need to significantly increase global investment.
Moreover, renewable energy production is often the least-cost energy production source with the shortest installation times, and provides countries with energy security, reducing future exposure to the volatility of oil, gas and coal prices.