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Global leaders set to act to increase energy access while reducing emissions at first UN energy summit in 40 years on 24 September

Press release

Announcements to trigger a major step forward in addressing both energy poverty and net-zero emissions

New York, 22 September — Significant new commitments for financing clean energy, increasing renewables and improving access to electricity are expected to be announced on 24 September at the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy. The summit-level virtual event will bring together Heads of State and other leaders from government, business, foundations, youth and civil society. Over 100 countries will join.

The energy summit will be a crucial step in building an international coalition for action on energy and will highlight how some countries and businesses are moving to address the energy crisis. Momentum is building with some announcements expected today and tomorrow from businesses and NGOs at virtual ‘Energy Action’ pre-events, to feed into the main Dialogue.

The commitments are expected to drive even greater actions to close the huge gaps in ambition and financing required to meet the energy needs of all people while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. 

The High-level Dialogue is being convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the summit level at the request of the General Assembly. It will be the first energy-focused gathering of leaders at the UN in more than 40 years.   

For the Dialogue, governments, businesses, foundations, cities, and international, civil society and youth organizations were urged to present voluntary commitments in the form of “Energy Compacts” to help achieve clean, affordable energy for all by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050, targets set out in Sustainable Development Goal 7 and in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. 

Roadmap calls for tripling investments

Also among the Dialogue outcomes will be a global roadmap for actions and timelines needed to meet energy targets by 2030. The roadmap involves inputs from expert working groups and was discussed at Ministerial-level forums in June.

Calling the Dialogue “a historic opportunity” in his invitation to global leaders, the UN Secretary-General urged actions set out in the roadmap. These include accelerating the energy transition by tripling investments for renewable energy and quadrupling the rate of energy efficiency improvement, and shifting fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy, while creating new green jobs and ensuring a just, inclusive transition. 

Without deep energy decarbonization, the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement will fall quickly out of reach. The Secretary-General affirmed that decisive action must be a political priority in order to achieve access to clean energy for the 760 million people who currently live without electricity and for the 2.6 billion people still relying on harmful solid fuels for cooking. 

Energy Compacts set our large-scale commitments

Over 135 Energy Compacts including a number of significant commitments have been submitted from governments; businesses; UN and international organizations; foundations; financial institutions; and civil society groups including several youth networks, from all regions. Additional Compacts are expected to be registered in the months ahead, as momentum grows and partnerships are expanded, with progress tracked through the 2030 target year.

“A wide range of stakeholders are making a serious push towards clean energy access and transition – governments, businesses, civil society leaders – but much more is needed to achieve both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement,” said Dialogue Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. “The High-level Dialogue is coming at a time when the climate crisis is already dramatically impacting millions of people, and we will not be able to meet our climate goals unless we solve energy poverty and make clean energy affordable and accessible.” 

“Remarkably, 1 in 10 people across the world cannot flick a light switch on in their homes in 2021, yet the burgeoning renewable energy revolution will bring power to millions of homes, hospitals and schools for the first time ever,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, Co-Chair of the Dialogue. “However, it is not simply a transition that will improve the lives of those people who are off-the-grid -- everyone will benefit if we work together to create a green economy powered by clean energy. It will drastically drive down carbon emissions, an intrinsic part of the decisive climate action we now need to take -- and deliver millions of new green jobs and livelihoods at the same time.” 

“At the UN High-level Dialogue, we will see bold commitments put forward as Energy Compacts as well as large financial commitments from partner institutions. We need more of these to ensure we leave no one behind and that we transition in a just and inclusive manner to net zero by 2050,” said his Co-Chair, Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. “These commitments will be tracked, and partnerships expanded over the next decade, as we continue to accelerate action and innovation to meet the energy challenges we face.” 

Energy access is key to climate goals

The energy sector currently accounts for almost three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions. While countries, where many people lack energy access, may contribute little today to the emissions that cause climate change, achieving access for everyone to sufficient electricity for productive use would cause their emissions to increase significantly if that energy comes from fossil fuels, such as coal-fired power and continued use of diesel-powered generators.

Taking place less than two months before the critical Climate Conference in Glasgow this November—COP 26—the Energy Dialogue is also an important step towards mobilizing commitments and defining the actions that will enable countries to reduce their emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, in line with the Paris Agreement.

All events are virtual, live-streamed at and

You can also register to join the Energy Action events at

For the programme of all events and details of Energy Compacts, see the Dialogue website.
For updates follow @UN_Energy on Twitter.

Media contacts 

UN DGC: Dan Shepard,
HLDE Secretariat, UN DESA: Pragati Pascale,; Daniella Sussman,
UNDP: Sarah Bel,
SEforALL: Divya Kottadiel,