Too many of the world's poorest communities have been negatively impacted by fossil fuel power or have not been provided energy access. The transition of the world’s energy systems toward decarbonized, highly electrified models must benefit all people equitably. This means achieving the Paris Agreement alongside the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 7, ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.  

It is vital to distribute the benefits and costs of the transition equitably to reduce gaps in access rather than exacerbate them. Justice and equity are relevant both as end goals and as part of the transition process itself. 

For example, many clean energy technologies, such as solar and wind, require substantial minerals. Mining has many social and environmental impacts, and it is important to ensure that obtaining these minerals does not further pollute communities already suffering from poverty and pollution.

Universal access to electricity, both physically and in an affordable manner, is indispensable for an equitable and just transition.

There were 733 million people without access to electricity in 2020, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2022, energy prices soared due to inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, raising concerns that even more people may be pushed into energy poverty

A key benefit of the energy transition is the creation of livelihoods, usually measured in terms of employment. There were an estimated 12 million renewable energy jobs in 2020, and there is the potential for the creation of 43 million jobs by 2050

These new jobs provide the opportunity for increased gender equality in the energy industry, which has been historically male-dominated. Women comprised 32% of the renewable energy workforce in 2019 and 22% of jobs in the oil and gas industry in 2017. While this is not a significant change, there are additional opportunities in the renewable energy industry to increase women’s participation.

At the international level, finance flows provide a good indicator of whether developed countries are helping support developing countries in their transitions. Tracking the relative foreign direct investment in clean energy, flowing from developed to developing countries, indicates how public climate pledges translate into private sector action. It also shows which countries are capturing most of the investment — and benefits — of the clean energy transition.

Data Insights

What targets are most important to reach in the future?

Systems Change Lab has identified 5 targets to track progress. Click a chart to explore the data.

What factors may enable and prevent change?

Systems Change Lab has identified 4 factors of change that may catalyze or impede progress. Click a chart to explore the data.

Progress toward targets

Systems Change Lab has identified 5 targets target to track progress. Explore the data below.

Population without access to electricity

The number of people without access to electricity dropped steadily over the past two decades, reaching 733 million in 2020. To achieve universal electricity access by 2030, current efforts will need to accelerate by 1.6x.

No energy transition will be just and equitable without universal access to electricity.

The number of people without access to electricity dropped steadily over the past two decades, from 1.3 billion in 2000 to 733 million in 2020. The population still without access remains mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2018 and 2020, approximately 57 million people globally gained access to electricity.

To reach universal access to electricity by 2030, the rate at which populations gain access will have to increase significantly: the number of people without access to electricity should decline about 1.6x faster than it has in the last five years.

Share of household income spent on electricity

A key measure of energy affordability is the share of household income spent on electricity. The Multi-Tier Framework, a global tool that measures the quality of electricity access, establishes an affordability guideline of less than 5% of household income for 365 kilowatts per year.

A key measure of energy affordability is the share of household income spent on electricity. The Multi-Tier Framework, a global tool that measures the quality of electricity access, establishes an affordability guideline of less than 5% of household income for 365 kilowatts (kW) per year. Currently, there are no global datasets available for this indicator.

Although income-based metrics are well accepted indicators of energy affordability, they do not capture other forms of household energy poverty, such as reduced consumption or the inability to consume energy at a desired level. These forms of energy poverty may be revealed by other newly developed indicators, such as the energy equity gap, though these require real time consumption data not yet available in most countries.

Share of women in the renewable energy workforce

Renewable energy industry has more women in its workforce than traditional energy, as women comprised 32% of the renewable workforce in 2018. Much remains to be done to increase participation, improve career prospects and reduce gender discrimination.

Historically, energy has been a male-dominated industry. In 2017, the estimated share of women in the global oil and gas industry workforce was just 22%. As the number of renewable energy jobs grows, however, there will be opportunities to improve the gender balance.

Women’s participation is currently uneven across renewable technologies; for example, in wind power, women account for only 21% of the workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a negative impact on gender equity in the renewable energy industry.

As a whole, however, the renewable energy industry has more women in its workforce than traditional energy, as women comprised 32% of the renewable workforce in 2018. Much remains to be done to increase participation, improve career prospects and reduce gender discrimination.

While there is no precise target for this indicator, it would be preferable if the share of women in the renewable energy industry reflected the gender distribution in broader society.

Average outage duration per customer by country

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Average frequency of outages per customer by country

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Enablers and barriers

We monitor momentum by tracking a set of 4 factors factor that can enable or prevent progress. Explore the data and learn about key actions driving progress.

Number of human rights allegations in critical minerals mining

Leadership
The Transitions Minerals Tracker tracks allegations of human rights abuses and recorded 61 alleged violations in 2021.

The clean energy transition is expected to bring a massive increase in the use and mining of critical minerals such as cobalt, copper, lithium, nickel, zinc and rare earths. It is estimated that under a net-zero scenario, the market for critical minerals will grow from about 8 million tonnes (Mt) in 2020 to over 40 Mt in 2050, with demand for lithium increasing 100-fold by 2050.

The human rights violations related to mining projects in general and critical mineral mining in particular are well documented.

The Transitions Minerals Tracker surveys allegations of human rights abuses in the mining of lithium, copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese and nickel. It records allegations against 51 indicators grouped in six categories: environmental impacts; impacts on the local community and attacks against civil society organizations; impacts on workers; governance and transparency; security issues and conflict zones; and issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The database noted 11 allegations in 2010, but that number has grown as mining for critical minerals has increased. There were 61 recorded alleged violations in 2021.

The number of allegations of human rights violations in critical mineral extraction is one indicator of equity during the energy transition. Similar indicators focusing on one or more clean energy technologies also exist, but this is considered a better proxy because critical minerals are required for most clean energy technologies. 

As the energy transition unfolds, progress on this indicator will be measured by a decreasing number of new allegations of human rights violations.

Foreign direct investment in sustainable energy infrastructure from developed to developing countries

Leadership
From 2011 to 2017, the total FDI investment from G20 members was about $4 trillion, but nine countries received 60% of this total, and low-income countries collectively received less than 1%.

Tracking the distribution of clean energy foreign direct investment (FDI) flowing from developed to developing countries provides insight into how public climate pledges translate into the private sector. It also shows which countries are capturing most of the investment — and benefits — of the transition.

From 2011 to 2017, the total FDI investment from the Group of Twenty (G20) members was about $4 trillion. Of this, $448 billion was for sustainable infrastructure, mostly clean energy, with $282 billion directed to emerging markets and developing economies. The investments were not evenly distributed, with nine countries out of 71 receiving 60% of the total. Crucially, low-income countries collectively received less than 1% of clean energy FDI.

While there is no specific target for the proportion of sustainable infrastructure FDI going to developing countries in 2030 and 2050, the flow of investment from developed to developing countries must increase and be equitably distributed rather than concentrated in a few nations.

There is currently no publicly available global dataset that measures FDI for sustainable infrastructure by country. Having a public record of annual FDI flows for sustainable infrastructure would demand accountability from developed countries to help developing countries finance their energy transitions.

Percent of public expenditure available to implement financial support and professional conversion programs

Innovation
Government interventions that favor workers currently or formerly employed in declining industries — such as electricity generation from fossil fuels or other gas and oil transformations — are the key components of a just transition.

Government interventions that favor workers currently or formerly employed in declining industries — such as electricity generation from fossil fuels, or other gas and oil transformations — are the key components of a just transition.

Some active labor market policies (ALMPs) aim to reduce the risk of unemployment by expanding and adapting the skills of people seeking employment. Building on existing skills to create skills that are suitable for new jobs is one way to match demand and supply in the labor market and protect workers against the risk of unemployment.

Governments spend a variable amount on ALMPs, which can increase in times of adverse shocks. Between 2000 and 2010, spending on ALMPs as a percentage of GDP increased in some countries, for example, from 0.16 to 0.57% in Brazil, from 0.05 to 0.43% in Argentina and from 0.2 to 0.45% in Chile. There is currently no comprehensive global data on the percent of public expenditure available to implement these programs. Efforts to display this data would require collection from individual countries.

Number of countries with strong electrification plans

Regulation and Incentives
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