Latin America and the Caribbean need to move urgently towards the energy transition, with greater production of renewable energy, universalizing access to energy and increasing energy efficiency, among other measures, authorities and experts said today at a meeting at ECLAC headquarters in Santiago in Chile.
The “High Level Expert Workshop for the Special Report on Latin America of the World Energy Outlook 2023 of the IEA” is carried out this March 16 and 17 to collect the information, needs and opportunities that the region presents in energy matters, in preparation of a special report, the WEO-2023 Latin America Energy Outlook (Energy Outlook in Latin America), which will be included in the next edition of the annual report prepared by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The meeting is attended by senior executives from the IEA, ministerial-level authorities from several countries in the region and experts from international, regional and multilateral organizations such as the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Latin American Organization for Energy (OLADE) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
It was inaugurated by the Executive Secretary of ECLAC, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, as host of the meeting, who pointed out that the energy transition constitutes not only an alternative to support access, energy security and environmental sustainability, but also a motor of productive transformation and development style for the region.
“The current situation of cascading crisis and its effects for Latin America, including the increase in poverty, a new decade lost in economic growth, high inflation and fiscal restrictions, have highlighted the fragility and vulnerability of the energy systems of the countries. countries, with negative impacts on security, equity and energy sustainability. These crises have particularly affected the households of the most vulnerable quintiles, worsening the situation of poverty and inequality”, stressed the senior United Nations official.
He recalled that despite the advances in electricity coverage in the region (which reaches 97% of the population), there are still 16 million people without access to this vital service and 77 million do not have access to clean cooking systems. To this is added the high fragility of the countries that depend on imports of fossil fuels (gas and oil), which also reveals their low diversification and renewability in their energy matrix. All of this keeps us from meeting Sustainable Development Goal 7 (“Guarantee access to affordable, safe, sustainable and modern energy for all”), whose progress is insufficient or very slow to achieve the renewable and efficiency ratio goals. power in the region as a whole, he said.
“We must redouble the work and efforts to accelerate national energy transition routes based on renewables. Even more so when raw materials and human capacities are widely available in the region and can be used in a sustained manner. I am referring to the wind, water, sun, critical minerals, as well as the engineering and work capacities that add value throughout its entire production chain,” Salazar-Xirinachs remarked.
ECLAC considers the energy transition as a process of sustainable transformation of the energy system that requires a new governance ecosystem, directed investments and modern regulatory frameworks, as well as the adaptation of institutions and public policies.
The regional organization of the United Nations proposes five pillars of simultaneous action: 1) Increase renewable energy in the energy matrix; 2) Universalize access to electricity based on renewables and reduce energy poverty; 3) Increase energy efficiency in all sectors; 4) Strengthen complementarity, integration and regional interconnection; and 5) Increase security and energy resilience to external shocks.
“In this highly complex energy context for the region as a result of the war in Ukraine, it is vital to carry out an exhaustive and detailed analysis that allows exploring the opportunities and challenges in energy matters in each country, as well as the progress and actions carried out in the Latin American and Caribbean countries in terms of energy efficiency, clean transportation, sustainable cities and renewable energies aimed at achieving a fair, sustainable and inclusive energy transition, which truly contributes to the decarbonisation objectives of the economy, in line with Paris 2015”, declared finally the Executive Secretary of ECLAC.