Bangladesh is among those highest electricity-deficit countries that have made the most progress in adopting sustainable energy policies between 2017 and 2019.
The country has also made notable progress in ensuring its people's access to clean cooking since 2010.
RISE - Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy - 2020, a new World Bank report charting global progress on energy policies, reveals this information.
RISE 2020 measures policy progress in 138 countries on renewable energy, energy efficiency, electricity access, and access to clean cooking – the four target areas of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7), which calls for achieving access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
According to the report, nearly every country in the world saw advancements in sustainable energy policy between 2017 and 2019 but the most rapid improvements were in sub-Saharan Africa.
The report, however, says that globally policy progress overall is slower than in the past, particularly around renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The Covid-19 pandemic underscores the need for policies and regulations that mitigate the risk of global shocks while also boosting investments in resilient energy systems and encouraging behavioural changes, it observes.
"At the same time, improving sustainable energy policy supports higher employment, particularly around energy efficiency and distributed electrification."
According to the report, policy progress from 2017 to 2019 accelerated for access to electricity and clean cooking.
Among countries with the highest electricity access deficits, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania made the most progress in adopting policies, the report says, adding that policies for mini grids and stand-alone power systems showed the most increase in adoption, reflecting the growing role of distributed energy for electricity access relative to the grid.
Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania also advanced in policy on consumer affordability and utility transparency, it added.
"When it comes to clean cooking, 2017-2019 saw large gains in Sub-Saharan African countries, notably Benin, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania, although from a low base.
"That follows notable progress since 2010 in upper- and lower-middle-income countries in Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Nepal) and Latin America (Guatemala). While only 15% of the clean cooking access-deficit countries have achieved advanced policy frameworks, of these countries China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Kenya represent more than half of the unserved population globally."
Renewable energy policies are converging among higher-, middle-, and lower-income countries, after a decade of rapid advancement across the board. Among the countries covered by RISE, only 37% had a national renewable energy target in 2010.
By 2019, 99% of the world's countries had either established a comprehensive legal framework for renewable energy or begun to do so. One third of countries worldwide had advanced policy frameworks for renewable energy, putting them in the report's "green zone", while 44% remained in the "yellow zone", suggesting room for improvement.
While 2017-2019 saw the overall renewable energy gap close between lower-income and higher-income countries, another gap widened: while almost every country adopted policies for renewable energy for electricity, only a third of countries have a clear target or plan for the use of renewable energy in heating and cooling, and only half for renewables in the transport sector.
By 2019, nearly 70% of RISE countries had enacted energy efficiency plans. While OECD countries have the most advanced energy efficiency policy frameworks, the fastest improving regions were sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, led by Chad and Ecuador, respectively.
The heating and cooling sector saw the highest energy efficiency policy scores globally, with approximately 75% of surveyed countries having adopted minimum HVAC energy performance standards and labeling measures. Yet improvement is still needed across the income spectrum; for example, some Persian Gulf countries have high income levels but lag in their uptake of efficiency measures.