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‘Growing momentum’ on sustainable energy

There is growing momentum to make them political and investment priorities.

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photograph courtesy of UN Men install solar panels for a hospital in Yemen.

In a bid of optimism for the New Year, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) expressed confidence that clean energy would grow in 2021.

Even if the world is not on track to meet climate objectives and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) for universal access to clean, affordable and reliable energy, Marcel Alers, UNDP Head of Energy, said “clean energy solutions exist that can get us there.”

“There is growing momentum to make them political and investment priorities,” he added.

Fossil fuels used to be less expensive than clean energy but that is changing, according to Alers.

Renewables are becoming more affordable every year, and “some options are now cheaper than fossil fuels,” he said, pointing out that since 2010, the price of solar had decreased by 89 percent.

“It is now cheaper to go solar than to build new coal power plants in most countries, and solar is now the cheapest electricity in history,” the UNDP official said.

Moreover, amid an exceptionally challenging year, and despite suffering setbacks, the renewables sector has shown resilience.

“This fall in price, coupled with technological progress and the introduction of innovative business models, means we are now at a tipping point,” he said, urging for a large-scale clean energy investments from the public and private sectors.

Throughout 2020, countries have pledged to build back better, greener and fairer.

“With support from UNDP’s Climate Promise, 115 countries committed to submitting enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions,” Alers said.

Among other things, he noted that high-emitting economies, such as China, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the European Union, had made
net-zero commitments and that United States President-elect Joe Biden had vowed to rejoin the Paris Agreement.

“These pledges now need to be translated into action,” said the UNDP official. “Ambitious commitments are a strong signal and a necessary first step toward reaching net-zero emissions. We now need to build on them.”

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