The rush to consume fossil fuels in response to the conflict in Ukraine, according to the UN Secretary General, is “madness” and jeopardizes global climate goals.
As countries seek to replace Russian suppliers, coal, oil, and gas prices have risen rapidly in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
However, according to Antonio Guterres, these short-term efforts may “shut the window” on the Paris climate goals.
He also urges countries, particularly China, to phase out coal completely by 2040.
A UN climate group will look into carbon sequestration.
The EU has unveiled a plan to wean itself off Russian gas.
Is the energy crisis going to assist the environment?
Mr Guterres makes no bones about the reality that the minimal progress made in Glasgow is insufficient to avert disastrous climate change in his first big speech on climate and energy since COP26.
Scientists believe that keeping global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees Celsius this century is critical to limiting the extent of global warming damage.
Carbon emissions must be lowered in half by the end of this decade to keep that threshold alive. As Mr. Guterres points out, emissions are expected to grow by 14%.
According to him, the conflict in Ukraine threatens to exacerbate the problem.
An easy-to-understand guide to climate change
This year, Europe, the United Kingdom, and other countries are aiming to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas. Alternative energy sources include coal and liquefied natural gas imports.
However, Mr. Guterres warns that this short-term approach poses a significant risk to the climate.
“Countries may become so preoccupied with filling the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they ignore or stifle policies to reduce fossil fuel use,” Mr Guterres said.
“This is insane. Addiction on fossil fuels is a recipe for disaster.”
Countries must “intensify the phase-out of coal and all fossil fuels,” as well as achieve a swift and long-term energy transformation.
It’s “the only true path to energy security,” according to the report.
Mr Guterres said the answers to the climate catastrophe primarily lie in the hands of the G20 group of richest nations, which create approximately 80 percent of global emissions.
While many of these countries have made significant steps to reduce emissions by 2030, there remain a “few holdouts, such as Australia,” according to the report.
Mr. Guterres claims that coal must be phased out completely in wealthy countries by 2030, and in all other countries, including China, by 2040.
According to the Secretary General, coal is a “dumb investment” that will result in “billions in stranded assets.”
He believes that the only path forward is to form alliances to assist large emerging countries in swiftly transitioning away from fossil fuels.
He brings up the example of South Africa. Several countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and others, agreed to a $8.5 billion funding initiative to end South Africa’s dependency on coal during COP26.
According to Mr. Guterres, the pieces are starting to fall into place for similar alliances in Indonesia, Vietnam, and elsewhere.
Mr Guterres has asked for a large increase in financing to help countries adapt to rising temperatures, which is one of the primary issues in solving the climate challenge.
He points out that one out of every three individuals in the world is currently unprotected by disaster early warning systems, with six out of ten people in Africa being unprotected.
He claims that by 2022, richer countries must finally fulfill their long-standing promise to provide $100 billion per year to the poor world.