HomeOpinion & AnalysisRole of energy in meeting SDGs and climate compatible goals

Role of energy in meeting SDGs and climate compatible goals

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By Peter Makwanya

ENERGY access is not only a requirement but a human right too, a sustainable inclusion and livelihood option in every respect. Many communities in the Global South find themselves in energy unfavourable conditions due to poor energy governance systems, convenient omission or emission nightmares, among others.

For centuries, communities in the Global South have been experiencing crippling energy insecurities even in the emergence of new green energy revolution and technologies.

These experiences have delayed poor communities in many developing countries from realising decent living standards.

Being able to experience decent living standards requires many forms of energy systems.

These energy systems are utilised in the homes, for cooking and lighting, in schools, clinics and hospitals, farming and agricultural production, factories and communication networks.

While these are basic energy consumption sources, the list is endless.

The well-being of any individual is determined by the availability of energy as a vital resource. If communities are overwhelmed by the emission baggage, then poverty becomes difficult to eradicate.

Emission reduction targets known as net-zero need to be compatible with SDGs if they are to be inclusive, people-centred, result-oriented and achievable in the framework of climate justice.

While all SDGs appear favourable to be integrated with SDG number seven — affordable and clean energy, this makes SDG seven a pillar of sustainable development and at the heart of climate justice.

It is fundamental to note how energy is at the epicentre of sustainable mitigations while making every livelihood goals collaborative and integrative.

All these goals combined deliver communities from energy poverty.

Unfortunately, through convenient emissions, SDG number seven is the most forgotten, underutilised and neglected goal, as energy needs at local levels are not always mainstreamed into national climate governance, justice and overall resilience building frameworks.

Energy provision and access that is required to enable communities experience decent living standards need to be classified as energy for all by any benchmark possible.

Ambitious climate goals and mitigations cannot be realised in the absence of energy for decent living standards.

Energy underlying needs, especially for poverty alleviation have not been the prime concern of energy role players, authorities and providers.

The energy thresholds and requirements for sustainable living include the common uses of power we already have firmly in the public domain such as for household itineraries, water and sanitation, food preservation, transport and communication.

While these are instrumental, they are not complete without energy for sustainable farming practices, to power agricultural production, to build food stocks, for food security purposes.

People cannot talk about a negative energy footprint when the above requirements have not been fulfilled.

The above energy milestones enable communities to have sustainable and user-friendly energy choices for improved resilience.

Poverty-stricken communities can make do with energy access at local level, for domestic and community needs, but for quite a long time, indeed, there have been long-term energy gaps which have never been reduced, whether it is deliberate, coincidental or otherwise, nobody
knows.

Generally speaking, without undermining the potential of the inhabitants of the Global South, they are energy-starved and short-changed in ways that are nowhere near energy sufficiency, let alone decent living standards.

The Global South communities still have lots of hurdles to overcome in realising energy independence and literacy.

Energy insufficiency in the Global South also correlates starkly with population growth and explosion, a tradition of multiplication of numbers with no significant value.

Every energy global minimum threshold and projection, either 2030 or 2040, 1,5 degrees Celsius or 2 degrees, are mere cosmetic projections designed to keep people hoping, expectant and believing.

In this regard, the poor communities are hamstrung and limited in terms of sustainable energy choices, leading to lack of meaningful resilience building and context-specific climate solutions with deliverables.

Inequality issues in energy appear to be affecting gender equity and quality education in many retrogressive ways, which have suffocated their local economic growth, resilience building and environmental governance including dismal macro-economic performances at their national levels.

While these inequality gaps are not exclusively energy-driven and manifested, they are compounded by lack of growth, tenacity, graft and lack of renewal at national levels.

As a result, there are interconnected issues militating against sustainable energy access which are developmentally oriented, lack of sufficient mainstreaming of SDGs into development work and stage-managed climate-proofing scenarios in developing countries.

It has to be within people’s realisation that most thermal power stations guzzle large amounts of freshwater in water-stressed communities.

Worse still, when these companies present their sustainability reports, there won’t be any information about the amount of their carbon footprints in communities in which they operate.

Many communities lack orientation in environmental governance information and literature in order to rediscover their voices and build confidence.

  • Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity.

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