Sustainable Development Goal 7 – Affordable and clean energy

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Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy is the seventh objective of the 2030 Agenda

With the alarming predictions caused by the global warming, including the possible increase of 1.5º C in the average temperature of the planet until 2023, one of the main villains of climate change gain more and more attention of managers and environmentalists: the burning of fossil fuels.

We are talking about oil, natural gas and mineral coal, used in vehicles, industries and in our own homes. The main source of energy on the planet, they are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, representing 60% of the amount. And the environment is not the only one harmed: air pollution due to the use of fossil fuels for domestic energy caused 4.3 million deaths in 2012.

Changing this scenario requires an energy source that can be clean, cheap and renewable, as the UN says. SDG 7 – Clean and Accessible Energy was conceived precisely with this vision in mind: “ensuring reliable, sustainable, modern and affordable access to energy for all”. It is one of the 17 Goals included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a global action plan developed by the UN to guarantee the well-being of people, cities and the planet for the next decade.

The subject is a delicate one since it involves a series of implications for our daily lives, agriculture, farmers and global industry, all dependent on fossil fuel derivatives. The situation is still worse in the context of the coronavirus, since the lack of access to energy can harm the efforts to contain COVID-19 in many parts of the world. After all, with energy the health facilities can continue to function, communication services can alert about the disease and the technologies that guarantee and monitor social distance can be maintained. The pollution generated by the burning of fossil fuels is another point to be raised, since studies indicate a direct relationship between pollution and the increased risk of death from the disease.

It is not difficult to perceive, therefore, the relevance of this SDG to the world, especially at times like the current one. And Bright Cities knows that, in order to achieve it, we must invest in technology, innovation and environmental policies. Our platform contributes to the process of building a smart city using adisruptive technology, which performs a complete diagnosis based on 160 international indicators. It is from the data obtained with these indicators that we analyze the municipal performance in ten priority urban areas, such as Environment, Mobility and Technology and Innovation – all related to the SDG 7.

After all, cities have a fundamental role in guaranteeing, distributing and raising energy awareness. Whether prioritizing cleaner transportations, such as bicycles, or investing in renewable technologies, such as electric, or even running rationing campaigns, our platform is able to diagnose the efficiency of public services and find the best solutions to solve them. And for that to happen, many of the indicators employed are directly related to SDG 7. We listed some of them below to tell you why they are an important tool for identifying, evaluating and guiding cities towards the goals of the 2030 Agenda:

  • Indicator “Percentage of the population of the city with authorized electric service”: analyzes whether a given municipality is able to properly carry out the distribution and monitoring of energy for its population, as indicated by goal 7.1 of SDG 7: “By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services“;
  • Indicator “Total percentage of energy derived from renewable sources, as a share of the city’s total energy consumption”: verifies the use of renewable energy sources by a city, directly related to goal 7.2 of SDG 7: “By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix“;
  • Indicator “Electricity use per capita”: indicates the average consumption of electricity per individual, thus identifying whether a city meets the SDG 7.3 target: “By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency”;

Based on the collection, analysis and comparison of the data obtained with these indicators, our diagnosis identifies the main challenges and creates, for each city, a personalized roadmap. In it, we point out a series of smart solutions to solve urban problems, with respective costs, deadlines and supplier indications – our platform has a database of more than 1000 smart solutions for smart cities, the largest in the world!

One of them is the Philips System, aimed at smart lighting poles. Cities like Los Angeles, in the United States, and Buenos Aires, in Argentina, are some of the international metropolises to adopt the system. Each unit contains a sensor capable of sending and receiving data on pollution, noise and temperature. In addition, LED technology is able to reduce energy consumption and significantly improve light efficiency. Connected to each other, the poles create a true information network across the city, help radically reduce energy costs, improve the environment and provide safer and more livable neighborhoods.

A similar technology to reduce energy costs also exists for indoor environments, such as public buildings or even homes. Apollo uses sensor technology and wireless controls to save energy, ensuring that the lights are on only when needed. Every 10 minutes, the monitoring center also receives and sends informative reports on the performance of the lights, the maintenance status and even information on urban traffic. Want to know more solutions? Access our database and select the option “Energy and Environment” in the filters.

Although many cities are committed to adopting solutions like these, which considerably reduce energy consumption, others still face a total lack of access. According to data collected by the UN, about 840 million people live without electricity. As a result, more than 3 billion individuals depend on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating on a daily basis.

The search for renewable sources is yet another challenge to be faced by nations around the world. Technologies that make use of wind, water, sun, biomes and geothermal energy, all inexhaustible and clean, represent only 15% of global energy production.

Despite this, the latest UN reports have shown positive results. The Organization is even behind the Energy Progress Report, a global panel that records progress in energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy around the world. The tool, available online, assesses the progress made by each country in these three pillars and provides information to indicate how far we are from reaching the goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the information collected, the world is progressing towards Goal 7, with encouraging signs that energy is becoming more sustainable and widely available. Access to electricity in the poorest countries has started to accelerate, but special attention is still needed in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, where the worst rates are. According to the UN:

  • The global share of the population with access to fuels and clean kitchen technologies reached 61% in 2017, compared to 57% in 2010. Despite this progress, almost 3 billion people still depend mainly on inefficient and polluting kitchen systems;
  • The energy consumption to GDP ratio improved from 5.9 in 2010 to 5.1 in 2016;
  • Financial support from developing countries to seek clean and renewable energy reached the US $ 18.6 billion mark in 2016, almost double the US $ 9.9 billion mark in 2010.
Source: UN

In the Brazilian context, data from the Energy Progress Report indicate that less than half of national consumption, 46%, comes from renewable sources. Biomass and electricity are the main ones, accounting for 42.5% and 28.2% of production, respectively. In addition to it, although the portal indicates that access to electricity is guaranteed to all Brazilians, internal data proves that there are still families without the right to resources. According to IBGE data from 2015, 1.5% of Brazilians did not have electricity at home, the equivalent of 2.7 million people. Most of them are in the North region: a survey carried out by the Institute of Energy and Environment (IEMA) showed that 990 thousand inhabitants lived without access to public services in the Legal Amazon, an area that encompasses the nine states that have Amazonian vegetation.

With impacts on the economy, environment and health, the search for more accessible, cheap and renewable energy sources is fundamental for building a better future, and Bright Cities has the ideal solution to help cities face these urban challenges. Always working in partnership with mayors and public agencies, we have encouraged concrete actions towards the goals of the SDGs and intensified the collection and use of data for decision making. To learn more about our work, check out the special content we have prepared presenting the platform. Here, on our News Platform, you can check out the special content on the SDGs, where we discuss all the 17 Goals and tell you the best solutions for them!