Sustainable Development Goal 7

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

The IEA provides annual country-by-country data on access to electricity and clean cooking (SDG 7.1) and is the main source for tracking progress towards renewables (SDG 7.2) and energy efficiency (SDG 7.3) targets. Learn more below or read "Energy is at the heart of the sustainable development agenda to 2030" by IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol.

Target 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services

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The number of people without access to electricity fell to 1.1 billion in 2016, down from 1.7 billion in 2000. China reached full electrification in 2015, while developing countries in Asia have made significant progress. In India, half a billion people have gained access to electricity since 2000, one of the greatest success stories in electrification. Many countries in other regions of the world have achieved near-universal access to electricity, including in North Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. And in sub-Saharan Africa, electrification efforts for the first time outpaced population growth in 2014, resulting in a drop in the number of people without electricity access.

Source on graph: IEA Energy Access Outlook, 2017. The World Bank also estimates country progress on electricity access on the basis of surveys, the basis for tracking progress towards SDG indicator 7.1.1. The IEA methodology for tracking electrification progress relies on government estimates of grid connections and country and commercial data on renewable decentralised access. This document, as well as any data and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.

Target 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services

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The share of the global population without access to clean cooking facilities fell to 38% in 2015, down from 46% in 2000. Still, due to strong population growth, the number of people without access to clean cooking is flat, at about 2.8 billion people. Most live in Developing Asia (1.9 billion people), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (850 million people). But there are some notable successes, especially in China and Indonesia, where urbanisation and stronger government policies have prompted a switch to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas and electricity. Several countries in sub-Saharan Africa have also made substantial progress in delivering access to LPG for cooking. But overall progress in the region is slow, with the access rate to clean-cooking still below 10% in 25 countries.

Source on graph: IEA Energy Access Outlook, 2017. The World Health Organisation is the global custodian agency for SDG indicator 7.1.2. The IEA methodology for tracking clean cooking progress uses a combination of survey data, based on World Health Organisation Household Energy Database, and IEA energy balance data. This document, as well as any data and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.

Target 7.2: By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix

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The share of modern renewables in final energy consumption has been growing steadily since the early 2000s, reaching 9.7% in 2015, as renewables growth outpaced total energy consumption. Renewable electricity accounted for two-thirds of the absolute increase in renewables consumption, with hydro, wind and bioenergy accounting for 90% of that growth since 2000. Wind and solar accounted for 70% of the increase in total modern renewables in 2015, driven by falling costs and policy support. Solar PV currently accounts for 4% of renewable electricity generation and has been the fastest-growing source since 2010, with an annual 50% growth.

Modern bioenergy accounted for half of modern renewables consumption in 2015, half of which is consumed in North America and Europe. The reporting of progress towards SDG target 7.2, which typically also includes traditional biomass, is excluded here and accounts for 45% of total renewable consumption. Traditional biomass is the main cooking fuel for 2.5 billion people, mainly in developing Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with serious health-related, social and environmental consequences.

Source on graph: IEA Energy Balances 2017. This document, as well as any data and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.

Target 7.3: By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency

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In 2015, global energy intensity, defined as the ratio of primary energy supply to gross domestic product (GDP), continued to fall. This 2.8% decline was the fastest annual improvement since 1990 and double the average rate seen between 1990 and 2010. However, the compound average rate of improvement of 2.2% seen between 2010 and 2015 still falls far short of the 2.7% target over the period 2010-2030 needed to achieve the SDG objective. The rate of energy efficiency improvement will not reach this level without a significant ramp-up in global policy ambition and sustained progress.

The worldwide trend conceals considerable regional variations. In the Asia Pacific region, energy intensity in 2015 was 4.3% lower than in 2014. In North America, energy intensity improved by 3.8%. Much of the reduction in energy demand arising from energy efficiency has been achieved through government policies. However, more than 68% of global final energy consumption was not covered by mandatory efficiency codes and standards in 2016.

Source on graph: IEA Energy Balances 2017. This document, as well as any data and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.

Source Publications


Latest findings

Updated: April 2018

A new series of Policy Briefs launched in April 2018 at the United Nations found that the world was not on track to achieving energy-related Sustainable Development Goals.

This series of 27 briefs, underpinned by IEA data and analysis and the result of a collaboration of more than 50 organizations, provides the latest assessment of where the world stands on goals for universal energy access and increasing renewables and energy efficiency. They chart the crucial links between energy and other development objectives, and outline what needs to be done to scale up and accelerate policies, innovation, finance and capacity-building between now and 2030.

Energy is not only a global goal in its own right but is at the heart of the sustainable development agenda to 2030, and is essential for reducing poverty, improving health and ensuring environmental sustainability. But the latest data shows that global progress falls short on all four energy-related targets established under SDG 7, which aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.

  • There are still around one billion people without access to electricity (SDG 7.1.1). There has been significant progress in many countries, especially in Asia, but progress has been uneven: there are now more people without electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa than there were in 2000, and under current trends, there would still be more than 670 million without access in 2030.
  • The picture is even dimmer when it comes to access to clean and modern cooking facilities (SDG 7.1.2). About 2.8 billion people rely on polluting fuels to cook their daily meals, a number which has not changed since 2000. Without greater ambition, 2.3 billion will still remain without clean cooking access in 2030, with grave health, environmental and social consequences.
  • The share of modern renewables in global final energy consumption (SDG 7.2) has been growing steadily in the past decades, reaching nearly 10% in 2015. However, to achieve a truly sustainable energy system, this share needs to more than double to 21% by 2030. But while wind and solar deployment has accelerated, this goal is still out of reach under current policies.
  • Finally, while 2015 was an impressive year for energy efficiency (SDG 7.3), with global energy intensity falling by 2.8%, IEA data shows that progress has slowed significantly in 2016 and 2017, and on average still falls short of the 2.7% target needed to achieve the SDG target.

The United Nations will have the first in-depth review of SDG 7 at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July. This is an important time to assess where we stand with our global energy goals, where existing national policies are taking us, and how to steer the global energy system towards a more sustainable path.


IEA and the Sustainable Development Goals

The adoption of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 marked a new level of political recognition of the importance of energy to development. For the first time, this included a target to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all – collectively known as Sustainable Development Goal 7, or SDG 7. Thanks to more than two decades of work, the International Energy Agency has been at the forefront of global efforts to assess and analyse persistent energy access deficit. The IEA provides annual country-by-country data on access to electricity and clean cooking (SDG 7.1). IEA energy balances are also the main data source for tracking official progress towards SDG targets on renewables (SDG 7.2) and energy efficiency (SDG 7.3).

As part of these efforts, the IEA developed the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) in the World Energy Outlook 2017. The SDS combines ambitious climate policy (SDG 13) with significant action on achieving energy access (SDG 7.1) and creating cleaner air (SDG 3) – an integrated approach that speaks to energy policy priorities in a very wide range of countries.

The IEA is the lead custodian agency for SDG 7.2 and 7.3. It also plays a key role in the preparations for the High-Level Political Review of SDG 7 by the United Nations, in July 2018, leading a number of policy briefs that will serve as substantive input to the review. It is also participating in the Ad-Hoc Informal Multi-stakeholder Technical Group of Advisors on SDG 7. The IEA also co-leads the Global Tracking Framework report with the World Bank, providing a benchmark to track progress towards achieving SDG 7.

The IEA is also custodian of SDG target 12.c, which aims to rationalise inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption. The IEA has been systematically measuring fossil-fuel subsidies for more than a decade, showing the impact of subsidy removal for markets, climate change and government budgets. And, finally, the IEA is also a global co-custodian, with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), for SDG 9.4.1 on carbon dioxide per unit value added.