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Clean energy access: G20 support for archipelagic states

Photo credit: iStockphoto/imacoconut and Pexels/Oliver Sjöström

The Indonesia G20 Presidency has faced unprecedented challenges. The emergence of global geopolitical tensions from the start of 2022 have presented complexities in international relations and delegates have struggled to find consensus. As the global pandemic continues to affect all sectors of society, the future of our shared prosperity relies on our collective ability to create an inclusive and sustainable foundation for growth.

The Indonesian Presidency set this year’s priorities for improving global health, digital transformation, and the sustainable energy transition under the theme “Recover together, recover stronger”.

In energy, the goals are clearly defined by the Sustainable Development Goal 7 targets and commitments under the Paris Agreement and Glasgow Climate Pact. However, with a global energy crisis marked by high energy prices and market volatility, disruptions to energy supply chains, and record energy price inflation in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pathway to achievement of these goals is less certain.

Early in the year, ESCAP was invited by the Presidency to support the G20 Energy Transitions Working Group (ETWG) contributing to discussions on energy security, access and efficiency and the transition to lower carbon energy systems. At the Presidency’s request, ESCAP’s efforts focused on the role of G20 member States in supporting the delivery of universal access to clean energy in archipelagic states.

While island communities exist all over the world, the Pacific is home to the largest group of archipelagic countries on Earth. As the foremost intergovernmental body for Asia and the Pacific, and having worked closely with the Pacific Community and many Pacific member States, ESCAP is well positioned to provide insights into the energy transition specifically for island contexts.

This was the first time that a G20 Presidency has sought explicit recognition from G20 members of the unique challenges to delivering energy transitions in archipelagic environments.

To support this work and foster dialogue, ESCAP hosted a side event on Assuring Energy Access and Transitions in Archipelagic States on 18 May 2022 which drew together some of the world’s foremost experts on the issues, to discuss the challenges, financial solutions and promising technologies for providing energy access to island communities. We then invited G20 members to contribute learnings from their own experiences in delivering support towards universal access to energy in archipelagic situations which we study to better inform our own understanding.

Building on this, ESCAP proposed an Action Plan which included the following suggestions for consideration by G20 members:

  1. Develop enabling policy and regulatory environments so that users receive the full benefits from utilising a reliable energy supply.
  2. Assist in the setting of goals and the development of roadmaps to support the achievement of 100 per cent renewable electricity in small island countries by 2030.
  3. Adopt the Modern Energy Minimum of consumption of at least 1,000 kWh per person per year for electricity access and international standards and labelling for clean cooking fuels and technologies.
  4. Support capacity development amongst regulators and utilities through knowledge-sharing, training and regional-scale efforts towards harmonization of standards and codes.
  5. Support the delivery of best-practice agile programmes for technology deployment which focus on developing local capacity and entrepreneurship.
  6. Prioritise funding for programmes and projects which develop local capacity and de-risk investments in island countries.
  7. Work with existing intergovernmental organisations including CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and SPC (Pacific Community) to develop and implement regional and national energy plans that prioritise energy access.

Our submission contributed to the G20 Presidency’s proposed Bali Energy Transitions Roadmap which seeks to provide continuity in the agenda for accelerating clean, sustainable, just, affordable, and inclusive energy transitions. The Bali Roadmap identifies three core priorities – 1) Securing Energy accessibility; 2) Scaling up smart and clean energy technologies; and 3) Advancing clean energy financing – defining a set of milestones and voluntary collaborative actions within each as the basis to work towards a broader G20 action plan towards net zero or carbon neutrality that may be considered as a work program under future G20 Presidencies.

ETWG discussions held through the year culminated in the Energy Transition Ministers’ Meeting in Bali on 2 September 2022. Here the G20 members agreed upon a Bali Compact laying out a set of inclusive voluntary principles to ensure smooth and effective transitions in accordance with national circumstances and priorities. The Chair’s Summary of the Ministers’ meeting outlines details of the discussion and points of agreement.

All eyes are now turned to the G20 Leaders’ Summit to be held in Bali on 15 and 16 November in the hope of agreeing a formal Communique which outlines further commitment to delivering energy transitions as we “Recover together and recover stronger”.

Looking to the future, ESCAP stands by in readiness to continue its support for implementing the outcomes from G20 2022, in particular the G20’s ongoing work on the energy transition and efforts towards universal access to clean energy in archipelagic states.

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David Ferrari
ESCAP Consultant
Energy +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]