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Across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the greatest progress made in the Asia-Pacific region has been towards Goal 7. There has been considerable success in providing electricity access to urban and rural populations. South and South-West Asia performed exceptionally on electricity access, which helped accelerate progress on SDG 7. There has also been increased international financial support flowing to developing countries for research and development on clean energy, renewable energy production and the electrification of transport. Nevertheless, renewable energy as a share of total energy consumption in the region declined and has remained relatively static. While the region has made significant progress on affordable and clean energy, the pace has been too slow to reach the 2030 goal.

In addition, while the target of universal access to electricity by 2030 is on track, reaching the remaining 125 million people in mostly rural areas and poorer countries will require more intense efforts by national governments and a wide set of stakeholders, especially the private sector. Energy is intrinsically interconnected with most other SDGs and is essential to enable poverty reduction, food security, health, education, water and more. Indeed, 125 of 169 targets – two thirds of all targets – included in the SDGs are linked to energy.1 One such interlinkage, particularly important to the Asia-Pacific region, is energy and air pollution. The increased consumption of energy, especially fossil fuels, has significant local and regional social and environmental consequences and costs. For example, air pollution is disrupting people’s health and adversely affecting the growth potential of entire cities and economies.