Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy


Globally, 840 million people are without access to energy. While nine out of ten people have access, it requires extra resources to provide energy for underserved areas. In 2017, only 78% of rural areas had access to electricity compared to 97% of urban areas. Without electricity, one must spend hours fetching water, vaccines cannot be properly stored at clinics, businesses struggle to be competitive, and children cannot do homework at night. Clean energy for cooking is also a safety concern. Since 2012, there have been about four million premature deaths each year due to a lack of access to clean cooking fuels, and three billion people still don’t have access to these fuels. Also, fossil fuel energy accounts for about 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Ensuring universal access to energy is the primary purpose of Sustainable Development Goal 7. 

The Goal 

SDG 7 aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.

Targets and Indicators 

SDG 7 has five specific goals, or targets, measured through various indicators. One of the targets is to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services by 2030. Another one is to increase the share of renewable energy globally by 2030, measured through the share of renewable energy in the total final energy consumption. Some secondary goals of this SDG include enhancing international teamwork to achieve accessible clean energy research and technology, as well as expanding infrastructure for providing modern and sustainable energy services. 

What’s Already Being Done

The global electrification rate increased from 83 percent to 90 percent from 2010 to 2018. While there has been good progress in increasing access to energy worldwide, there is still a great need for accessible energy in rural areas, especially sub-Saharan Africa, where 53 percent of the population lacks access to electricity. 

Within the United States, the American Council on Renewable Energy hopes to perform advocacy for the renewable energy sector. They stated renewable energy created 549,911 jobs in 2019, showing that clean energy is economically beneficial, as well as environmentally beneficial. The organization works on publishing research, educating legislators on policies, and doing outreach on renewable energy’s financial benefits. 

Applying It: How Everyone Can Help

Large companies and governments bear an essential responsibility in reducing energy use, but you can help too. Add a rug to your bedroom to increase heat, which allows you to turn the thermostat down. Try plugging in appliances and chargers into a power strip. Instead of just hopping in your car to get somewhere, maybe you can ride a bike, walk, take the bus, or even consider carpooling with friends. Reusing products also helps to reduce the industrial use of energy. You can shop for clothes at second-hand stores, drink from a refillable water bottle, and use reusable bags at the grocery store. Though small, these steps can help the world meet SDG 7!

Think Further

  1. How do businesses that increase telecommunications and work from home options help decrease energy use?
  2. What disadvantages do students with a lack of energy in their area face?
  3. What are three steps you might take in your daily routine to reduce energy use?


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Learn More

  1. “Energy – United Nations Sustainable Development.” United Nations, United Nations,
  2. “SDG Indicators.” United Nations, United Nations, .
  3. “Goal 7: Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.” United Nations, United Nations,
  4. “American Council on Renewable Energy.” ACORE, 20 May 2020,