Sep 26, 2021 News
…investments in fossil fuel infrastructure will become stranded assets—UN SG
“…access to clean, renewable energy is, quite simply, the difference between life and death,” UN Secretary General
Kaieteur News – There is no need to invest in fossil fuel licensing or production infrastructure since in the near future, these will all become stranded assets.
Alternatively, “investing in clean, affordable energy for all will improve the well-being of billions of people. It can create the green jobs that we urgently need for COVID-19 recovery. It will advance all the Sustainable Development Goals and it is the single most important solution to avert climate catastrophe.”
These were among the clarion calls made by United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, during his address to a high-level dialogue on Energy during the UN’s 76th General Assembly in New York.
Qualifying his appeal, Guterres was adamant, “We have the tools we need.”
He reaffirmed “Solar photovoltaic’s are now the cheapest power source in most countries” and that “renewable yield three times more jobs than the fossil fuel sector.”
According to the UN Secretary General, “Solar and wind are the stars of our energy system.”
As such, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been the only sources of energy that continued to grow, “but it’s not nearly fast enough.”
The Secretary General (SG) had prefaced his arguments calling for investments in clean and affordable energy on the premise, while close to 760 million people still lack access to electricity and some 2.6 billion people lack access to clean cooking solutions, “how we produce and use energy is the main cause of the climate crisis.”
He disclosed that, “emissions from energy account for about 75 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions…So, we have a double imperative – to end energy poverty and to limit climate change.”
Reaffirming his adumbrations, Guterres stressed that in 11 sub-Saharan countries alone, one-quarter of health facilities lack access to electricity and globally, as many as nine out of 10 people breathe polluted air, leading to some eight million premature deaths each year.
According to the UN SG, “disasters made worse by climate change are increasing” and as such, “access to clean, renewable energy is, quite simply, the difference between life and death.”
Appealing to the world leaders and policy makers present for the confab, the SG was adamant, “we must solve these challenges this decade, and we must start today.”
He said, without the deep and rapid decarbonisation of “our energy systems over the next 10 years, we will never reach the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5-degrees…This will be fatal to the Sustainable Development Goals, to us all and the planet.”
According to Guterres, in such a situation, billions of people will be condemned to more poverty and more ill-health, “while the ecosystems we all rely on collapse. This is a profound injustice to current and future generations.”
To this end, SG Guterres in reminding that all countries have a role, said, “developing nations need to see the promised mobilisation of US$100 billion a year for climate action.”
He said this must be coupled with ensuring that “50 percent of climate finance is directed towards adaptation and resilience to the climate disruption that is to come.”
To this end, the SG said, “I count on all countries – especially major emitters – to rise to this moment, along with the major players from the world of business and finance.”
Outlining what he sees as “priorities for a sustainable energy future,” SG Guterres said firstly, “we must close the energy access gap by 2030.”
This, he explained, “means providing over a billion people with access to clean cooking solutions by 2025.”
According to Guterres, “the cost of closing the energy access gap is modest: around 35 billion dollars a year for electricity access and 25 billion dollars a year for clean cooking.”
Additionally, he pressed for rapidly shifting to decarbonised energy systems and outlined that by 2030, solar and wind capacity should quadruple to respectively 630 and 390 gigawatts added annual capacity.
“And we must intensify our efforts to improve energy efficiency…There must be no new coal plants built after 2021.”
The SG observed too that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries must commit to phasing out existing coal capacity by 2030, with all other countries following suit by 2040.
Additionally, “there is no reason for countries or investors to finance new fossil fuel exploration, licensing or production infrastructure…These will become stranded assets,” Guterres added, even as he pointed out that “Clean, renewable energy solutions provide the best business opportunities.”
As such, he posited, “international cooperation must be dramatically scaled up to catalyse the finance and investment needed to accelerate such energy transitions, especially in developing countries and small island developing states.”
He pressed too that in order to reach universal energy access by 2030 and maintain a net-zero trajectory by mid-century, “we must mobilise predictable finance at scale and promote technology transfer to the developing world.”
To this end, “we need to triple investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency to US$5 trillion a year. And access to finance by developing countries must be simplified, facilitated and expedited.”
According to the SG too, also needed is the redirecting of fossil fuel subsidies to renewable even as moves are made to put a price on carbon.
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