Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Measuring progress in the Nordic countries

Work in progress: This page is under active development.

Adopted in 2015 by all United Nations (UN) members, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a global agenda for making the world a better place by 2030. They are described by the UN as a ‘shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet‘, and goals are to be achieved by all countries, in global partnership, by 2030.

This data tracker uses the latest official data to look at how the Nordic countries are progressing towards achieving the 17 SDGs, with this page looking closer at Sustainable Development Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Data for the other goals can be access via this link.

Each target is presented by first looking at global trends, before zooming in on the Nordic countries and assessing their performance. The assessment is based on work by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in analysing the progress made toward the SDGs in all OECD countries.

Target 7.1

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

Indicators:

7.1.1Proportion of population with access to electricity
7.1.2Proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology

Global trends

A. Access to electricity

There has been good progress globally in expanding access to electricity, with over 91% of the world population covered in 2020, up from 78% in 2000 and 83% in 2010. It is estimated that approximately 733 million people, mainly living in rural areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, still lack access to electricity.

Yet, to achieve universal coverage by 2030, the pace of progress needs to increase further, as with the current trajectory 670 million people are expected to be without electricity access in 2030.

Note that the regional groupings used in the visualisation above (and all other visualisations on this page with regional data) follow the UN regional classification for the Sustainable Development Goals.

B. Access to clean cooking fuels and technology

Despite steady progress over the past decades, almost one-third of the global population relies on polluting fuels and technologies for cooking, such as biomass, kerosene, or coal. Increasing access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, such as electricity, liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas, biogas, and solar, will have positive effects on both health and climate.

Importantly, the increase in access to clean cooking fuels and technologies from 2010-2020, was largely due to increased access in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, according to the UN. Excluding those five countries, access rates remained largely unchanged in the rest of the world. In Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand), under 20% of the population has access to clean fuels and technologies as of 2020.

The Nordics

All the Nordic countries have universal access to electricity (both in urban and rural areas as shown in the chart below), as well as universal access to clean cooking fuels and technology. This target is therefore already achieved.

Target 7.2

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

Indicators:

7.2.1Renewable energy share in the total final energy consumption

Global trends

Only marginal progress has been made in recent years in substantially increasing the renewable share. In 2019, the share of renewables in total final energy consumption stood at 17.7%, up from 16.1% in 2010.

The renewable share varies substantially by sector. In the electricity sector, it has increased from approximately 20% to 26% from 2010 to 2019. In the transport sector, renewable energy accounts for only 3.6% of energy consumption, up from 2.6% in 2010. In the heat sector, renewables accounted for 23.4% in 2019 up from 22.7% in 2010. In the heat sector, traditional use of biomass (for example the burning of wood for heating) plays a major role, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the renewable share (including traditional use of biomass) stood for over two-thirds of total energy consumption.

The Nordics

The OECD includes an additional indicator on the production side, the renewable share of electricity production, to complement the global indicator of the renewable energy share in the total energy consumption. While there is no set SDG numerical target for the renewable share, the OECD uses a target of doubling the OECD median value in 2015.

Assessed against these target levels, on the consumption side, all the Nordic countries are above the OECD target threshold of 33%. On the production side, the target threshold is set at 61%, with all the Nordic countries except Finland above the target threshold.

Target 7.3

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

Indicators:

7.3.1Energy intensity measured in terms of primary energy and GDP

Global trends

This indicator measures the amount of energy used per unit of wealth created, defined as the ratio of total energy supply to the annual GDP created. A lower ratio means improved energy efficiency. The first chart shows the annual ratio from 2000 to 2019, which has improved from 5.6 megajoules per unit of wealth in 2010 to 4.7 megajoules in 2019. This represents an average annual growth rate of -1.9% from 2010 to 2019.

Apart from in Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand) energy efficiency has improved faster over the last decade (2010-2019) than on average from 1990 to 2010. However, to reach the target of doubling the improvement in energy efficiency, the global rate needs to improve by 3.2% on average each year to 2030 (improve means decrease further).

The Nordics

The OECD has operationalised the target for this indicator for OECD countries as doubling the OECD median value from 2015, thus reaching 1.73 megajoules per unit of wealth. Based on current trends, the OECD estimates that only Denmark and Norway have a high likelihood of reaching the target by 2030. These two countries both have the current highest energy efficiency and have seen the most improvement over the last decade as measured by the average annual growth rate.

Target 7.a

By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology

Indicators:

7.a.1International financial flows to developing countries in support of clean energy research and development and renewable energy production, including in hybrid systems

Global trends

While the target set out a commitment to enhancing international cooperation, there is no set numerical target. UN data does however shed light on the international financial flows to developing countries on clean energy. In 2019 it reached a total of approximately 11 billion, down from 24 billion in 2017 and 14 billion in 2018. According to the UN, the COVID-19 pandemic could mean that flows fell further in 2020.

No data is shown for each of the Nordic countries, as the distribution of international flows will depend on many factors, and there is no set country target level.

Target 7.b

By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and land-locked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support

Indicators:

7.b.1Installed renewable energy-generating capacity in developing countries (in watts per capita)

Global trends

Renewable capacity in developing countries reach close to 246 Watts per capita in 2020, reaching 36% of total energy-generating capacity in developing countries. Hydropower has been the dominant renewable over the past two decades, yet over the past years growth in hydropower capacity has stalled, with solar and wind accounting for most of the increase. Renewable capacity has expanded in all regions, with the highest increase since 2010 occurring in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.

About the data

The data presented on global, regional, and national trends are from the UN SDG Global Database and the OECD unless otherwise stated.

The assessment of the Nordic countries is based on the findings from a recent OECD report, published in April 2022. The OECD uses a three-tier classification for each target:

  • Target is achieved or on track to being achieved
  • Progress has been made, but is insufficient to meet the target
  • No progress or moving away from the SDG target

Note that the OECD methodology uses the current status of a target and calculates a likely trend towards 2030 based on recent progress. Thus, a country that is close to a target, but trending away from it, will be classified as having "No progress or moving away from the SDG target". Conversely, a country that is currently further away from the target, but trending towards it (and has a high likelihood of reaching it before 2030), will be classified as "Target is achieved or on track to being achieved".

Changelog

  • Pilot release 26 July 2022

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