The Impact of Universal Energy Access on achieving Net Zero

This article was written by Oyindamola Sofoluwe

The UN Secretary-General established the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) program in September 2011, with the goal of accomplishing three objectives by 2030 one of which is ‘ensuring universal access to modern energy services.

Countries and institutions are collaborating to reach a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. This race began as a result of increased global warming caused by human activities such as the use of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.

The term “Net-zero” refers to a situation in which greenhouse gas emissions are balanced by their removal from the atmosphere, causing global warming to grind to a close.

“We will not achieve our Net-Zero target until we provide energy access to all by 2030,” Damilola Ogunbuyi said during the COP26 Energy Today Dialogue. IRENA’s Aliya further stated that no climate action is possible without the use of renewable energy. As a result, there is a clear link between Universal Energy Access and Net Zero, and we will not be able to achieve Net Zero by 2050 if we do not achieve universal energy access by 2030.

The goal of the just concluded COP26 was to encourage the world to work together to keep global temperatures from rising above 2°C. As a result of the extremely difficult task of fostering human development (ending poverty, increasing global prosperity, and eliminating global inequality), the net emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) approaching zero in the second half of this century might be considered as an incredibly challenging task. 

As the world moves towards a global average surface temperature of 4°C or more by the end of the century, – which is primarily a result of human activities like the burning of fossil fuels -, newer and better sources and use of energy must be employed to reduce the rise in temperature. 

To be effective in mitigating global warming and enhancing community resilience, the world must adopt the usage of nature-based solutions, one of which is renewable energy, in everyday activities while also focusing on energy efficiency. Solutions that support the achievement of universal energy access like mini-grids for last-mile rural communities have the added advantage of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which inevitably helps improve the climate change situation.   

According to a report from the International Energy Agency on achieving Net Zero by 2050, it was stated that “Providing electricity to around 785 million people that have no access and clean cooking solutions to 2.6 billion people that lack those options is an integral part of our pathway”. While natural solutions such as planting trees might help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, providing renewable energy access to every home and institution on a large scale would be critical to achieving Net-Zero.

With West Africa still lagging behind in the race to achieve Universal Energy Access by 2030, catching up to the race to Net-Zero by 2050 seems nearly impossible.  Although more than half of Africa lacks access to clean energy, organizations such as Havenhill Synergy Limited are working hard to help Nigeria achieve the Universal Energy Access Goal by deploying mini-grids to last-mile rural communities and clean energy solutions to homes and institutions in urban areas.

Our efforts at Havenhill will contribute to reducing reliance on toxic energy sources such as coal and diesel, increasing clean energy awareness and utilization, increasing the success rate of the universal energy goal, and, in the long run, contributing to the realization of Net-Zero.


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