UN Secretary Normal António Guterres photographed on the COP26 local weather summit in Glasgow, Scotland on Nov. 11, 2021.
Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Photographs Information | Getty Photographs
The U.N. Secretary Normal issued a stark warning Monday, saying the planet had emerged from final yr’s COP26 summit in Glasgow with “a sure naïve optimism” and was “sleepwalking to local weather disaster.”
In remarks delivered to The Economist’s Sustainability Week by way of video hyperlink, Antonio Guterres sketched out an image of the place he felt the world stood when it got here to tackling world warming.
He famous that whereas COP26 had seen optimistic developments associated to points akin to reducing methane emissions, tackling deforestation and mobilizing personal finance, vital challenges remained.
“Retaining 1.5 alive requires a forty five% discount in world emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by mid-century,” he mentioned. “That drawback was not solved in Glasgow. Actually, the issue is getting worse.”
Guterres’ reference to 1.5 pertains to the Paris Settlement’s goal of limiting world warming “to properly under 2, ideally to 1.5 levels Celsius, in comparison with pre-industrial ranges.”
The Paris Settlement was reached on the COP21 local weather change summit in December 2015. Greater than six years on, it might seem that, for Guterres, an enormous quantity of labor nonetheless must be achieved.
“In accordance with current nationwide commitments, world emissions are set to extend by virtually 14% within the 2020s,” he mentioned. “Final yr alone, world energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 6% to their highest ranges in historical past. Coal emissions have surged to document highs. We’re sleepwalking to local weather disaster.”
On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the wide-ranging results this might have, Guterres supplied up an equally stark evaluation. He mentioned that “the fallout from Russia’s warfare in Ukraine dangers upending world meals and vitality markets, with main implications for the worldwide local weather agenda.”
“As main economies pursue an ‘all-of-the-above’ technique to interchange Russian fossil fuels, short-term measures may create long-term fossil gasoline dependence and shut the window to 1.5 levels.”
“Nations may turn into so consumed by the fast fossil gasoline provide hole that they neglect or knee-cap insurance policies to chop fossil gasoline use. And that is insanity: dependancy to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.”
Guterres’ feedback come at a time when a number of main economies, together with the European Union, are looking for methods to cut back their reliance on Russian hydrocarbons.
Final week, the Worldwide Power Company mentioned velocity limits on highways ought to be minimize by no less than 10 kilometers per hour (6.2 mph) to assist decrease oil demand. The advice was a part of a wider 10-point plan revealed by the Paris-based group.
In his speech Monday, Guterres additionally mentioned that “these within the personal sector nonetheless financing coal should … be held to account.”
“Their help for coal not solely may value the world its local weather targets,” he mentioned. “It is a silly funding — resulting in billions in stranded property.” It was additionally, he argued, “time to finish fossil gasoline subsidies and cease the enlargement of oil and fuel exploration.”
“However even essentially the most formidable motion won’t erase the truth that the scenario is already unhealthy. In lots of circumstances, and lots of locations, it’s irreversibly unhealthy.”
Coal has a considerable impact on the atmosphere and the U.S. Power Data Administration lists a variety of emissions from coal combustion. These embrace carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulates and nitrogen oxides. Elsewhere, Greenpeace has described coal as “the dirtiest, most polluting approach of manufacturing vitality.”
Guterres speech factors to the massive job going through governments world wide who say they need to scale back their reliance on fossil fuels and stop the worst results of local weather change.
Regardless of the existence of such targets, fossil fuels nonetheless play an enormous position on the planet’s vitality combine and firms proceed to find and develop new oil and fuel fields.
On the intention of preserving 1.5 alive, Guterres laid out a broad imaginative and prescient for a way this could possibly be achieved.
Alongside a “speedy, simply and sustainable vitality transition,” the part out of coal and all different fossil fuels wanted to be sped-up, he mentioned.
Different instruments included specializing in adaptation, strengthening nationwide local weather plans yearly and accelerating the decarbonization of sectors like cement, metal, aviation and transport.
As well as, essentially the most susceptible required safety and local weather finance wanted to be elevated. “That is how we’ll transfer the 1.5 diploma purpose from life help to the restoration room,” Guterres mentioned.