Moving towards sustainable development goal 7: affordable and non-polluting nergy in Guatemala

By:  Salvador del Valle.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in September 2015 as a set of global goals to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a sustainable development agenda (

The main goal is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all the people around the world. This involves actions by governments, the private sector and civil society.

Among the goals defined for this objective are the following:

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

7.2- By 2030, significantly increase the share of renewable energy in the total energy mix.

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

7.3.1- By 2030, increase international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewables, energy efficiency, advanced and cleaner fossil fuel technologies, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean technologies.

7.3.2- By 2030, expand infrastructure and improve technology to provide modern and sustainable energy services for developing countries, in particular the least developed ones, small islands developing states and landlocked developing countries, in line with their respective support programs (

Since energy production has long been based on fossil fuels derived from oil, coal and gas, the greenhouse gases generated by these have contributed to climate change and have had an impact on the climate we have today.

However, developed countries have already implemented measures and policies to reduce the effects, but it is still not enough considering that these countries also have generation based on fossil fuels, coal and gas.

In order to have energy generation matrices that can sustain development, these countries must have fossil fuel, coal or gas-fired generation, but they must also focus on promoting the development, construction and use of energy generation based on renewable technologies.  Promoting the use of this type of technology is a power of the states, either through tax incentives or other types of benefits for private investors, in the event that the state itself decides not to do it by itself.

However, as a private sector, efforts can also be made to comply with SDG 7, which can include both the installation and consumption of energy from a renewable source, such as the installation of solar equipment that supplies all or part of the energy consumed, as well as establishing mechanisms for energy efficiency in plants or offices.

Additionally, there are several incentives for the generation of renewable energy, from the issuance of certificates for the avoided greenhouse gas emissions, certification with a green seal for the use of this type of technology, to the decarbonization processes that are being implemented in first world countries.  These certifications are recognized by different companies, which in turn are committed to other SDGs and may imply an improvement in purchasing conditions or benefits, such as credit with more favorable conditions.

If the company decides, and undoubtedly it must be the shareholders and/or partners who must be convinced that this is the path to follow, the decision must be incorporated from the company’s medium and long term strategy, committing all levels of the organization to the achievement of these goals.  The way to achieve the proposed goals entails, apart from the strategy, a control and incentive methods to compensate the effort that this task requires.

The controls in the fulfillment of the steps towards the goals must be strict, measurable and achievable, among other characteristics, so that people can turn it into a way of doing things and that this eventually becomes part of the organizational culture and processes, both in the operations that can generate a large impact, as well as in the other areas within the organization.

These types of initiatives, no matter how small they may be compared to initiatives promoted by entire countries, contribute to the fulfillment of the objectives set to minimize the effects of climate change, as well as the specific targets for SDG 7.

At present, the data that is available and that should be impacted with the targets for SDG 7 are:

– 13% of the world’s population still does not have access to modern electricity services.

– 3 billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating food.

– Energy is the main contributor to climate change, accounting for about 60% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

– Indoor air pollution from the use of fuels for household energy caused 4.3 million deaths in 2012; 6 out of 10 of these were women and girls.

– In 2015, 17.5% of final energy consumption was from renewable energy.

All these efforts are undoubtedly actions that have to be carried out jointly, with the issuance of laws and policies from the State, with the work of the private sector and individuals, not only to meet these goals, but also helping with the fulfillment of other SDGs.