Energy Transition

These countries are leading the energy transition race

energy transition

Energy transition will be crucial in the fight against climate change. Image: Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez

Sean Fleming
Senior Writer, Formative Content
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Energy Transition

  • The Fostering Effective Energy Transition report highlights global progress in tackling greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation.
  • More than 70% of tracked countries have made progress on energy access and security.
  • But just 13 out of 115 countries have made consistent improvements over the past 10 years.
  • Fossil fuels accounted for 81% of all power in 2018.
  • More than 770 million people still lack access to electricity.

Sweden, Norway and Denmark have topped the World Economic Forum’s latest Energy Transition Index (ETI).

Marking the 10th anniversary of the index, the Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 report highlights the progress being made around the world to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation – at a time when more than 770 million people still lack reliable access to electricity.

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The ETI ranks 115 countries on their energy performance, including the resilience and efficiency of generation and transmission, and progress to cleaner forms of energy.

Energy Transition - The top 10 countries

a chart ranking countries on their energy performance
Sweden has the strongest energy performance, with Norway, Denmark and Switzerland following closely behind. Image: Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 edition

Sweden leads the global rankings, followed by Norway and Denmark. The top 10 countries account for around 2% of the global population and approximately 3% of energy-related CO2 emissions.

While the list of top 10 countries leading the energy transition is made up exclusively of developed countries, the UK and France are the only major global economies to feature.

The highest-placed non-advanced economy is Latvia (12), which is classed as ‘Emerging and Developing Europe’.

a diagram showing how to foster effective energy transition.
The report identifies ways to increase the resilience of the energy transition Image: Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 edition

Energy transition - Challenges remain

Fossil fuels are still the dominant source of global energy, accounting for 81% of all power in 2018. Reducing the reliance on coal, oil and gas is a necessary part of achieving vital climate objectives such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.

Over the past 10 years of the ETI, more than 70% of tracked countries have made progress on energy access and security, but only 13 of the 115 have made consistent gains, the report says, noting that more needs to be done to improve the robustness of supplies to newly electrified areas.

A diagram of the energy transition over the past decade
The energy transition over the past decade. Image: Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 edition

Assessing resilience

The report outlines three key focus areas to increase the resilience of the energy transition. These are:

1. Deliver a just transition for all

The shift to lower-carbon forms of energy must not undermine economic and financial security. Policymakers need to put in place measures that will support their economies, including re-evaluating energy policy and investment decisions.

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2. Accelerate electrification and go beyond

Decarbonizing energy systems can only be achieved through increased funding for research and development, along with better cross-sector collaboration. These will be the most effective routes to the scaling up of renewable energy sources.

3. Double-down on public-private sector collaboration

Annual investment in clean energy and energy efficiency needs to increase by a factor of six by 2050, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). More collaboration between the public and private sectors is needed. That should include risk-sharing to attract long-term investments.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Energy TransitionClimate Change
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