Clean, renewable energy is ‘the difference between life and death’, climate catastrophe will prevent, secretary-general says at high-level dialogue – World
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Here are the remarks of UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the High-Level Dialogue on Energy, which took place today:
Welcome to the High Level Dialogue on Energy. This event is long overdue. It has been 40 years since we have discussed energy at the highest level.
Today we are facing a moment of truth. Almost 760 million people still do not have access to electricity. Some 2.6 billion people do not have access to clean cooking solutions. And the way we produce and use energy is the main cause of the climate crisis. Energy emissions represent about 75% of total greenhouse gas emissions. We therefore have a double imperative: put an end to fuel poverty and limit climate change.
And we have an answer that will meet these two imperatives: affordable, renewable and sustainable energy for all. This is the goal of Sustainable Development Goal 7: investing in clean and affordable energy for all will improve the well-being of billions of people. It can create the green jobs we urgently need for the COVID-19 recovery. It will advance all of the Sustainable Development Goals. And this is the most important solution to avoid a climate catastrophe.
We have the tools we need. Solar photovoltaic is the cheapest source of energy in most countries today. And renewables generate three times more jobs than the fossil fuel sector. Solar and wind are the stars of our energy system. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they were the only sources of energy that continued to grow.
But it’s not fast enough. We are still a long way from being able to provide affordable and clean energy for all. In 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa alone, a quarter of health facilities do not have access to electricity. Globally, up to 9 in 10 people breathe polluted air, causing some 8 million premature deaths each year. And disasters aggravated by climate change are on the rise. Access to clean, renewable energy quite simply makes the difference between life and death.
We must resolve these challenges this decade. And we have to start today. Without a deep and rapid decarbonisation of our energy systems over the next 10 years, we will never meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 ° C. This will be fatal to the Sustainable Development Goals, to all of us and to the planet. Billions of people will be condemned to more poverty and ill health as the ecosystems we all rely on collapse. It is a deep injustice to current and future generations.
But this dark future is not inevitable. Science has shown us exactly how to avoid it. To limit temperature rise to 1.5 ° C, we need to reduce emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
All countries have a role. Developing countries need to see the promised mobilization of $ 100 billion per year for climate action. And we need to ensure that 50% of climate finance is spent on adaptation and resilience to future climate change.
Today’s meeting presents a historic opportunity. I am counting on all countries – in particular the major issuers – to live up to this moment with the major players in the world of business and finance. I am pleased to see several of the major issuers – countries and sectors – showing leadership through the high-level dialogue process as well as bold commitments to act.
I see four priorities for a sustainable energy future. First, we need to close the energy access gap by 2030. It means halving the number of people without access to electricity by 2025. And that means providing more than a billion people access to clean cooking solutions by 2025. The cost of closing the energy access gap is modest: around $ 35 billion per year for access to electricity and $ 25 billion a year for clean cooking.
Second, we need to move quickly to carbon-free energy systems. By 2030, solar and wind capacities are expected to quadruple to reach 630 and 390 gigawatts of additional annual capacity, respectively. And we must step up our efforts to improve energy efficiency. No new coal-fired power plants are to be built after 2021. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries must commit to phase out existing coal capacity by 2030, with all other countries following suit. not by 2040.
There is no reason for countries or investors to fund new infrastructure for fossil fuel exploration, licensing or production. These will become blocked assets. Clean and renewable energy solutions offer the best business opportunities. International cooperation needs to be significantly strengthened to catalyze the funding and investment needed to accelerate these energy transitions, especially in developing countries and small island developing states.
Third, to achieve universal energy access by 2030 and maintain a net zero trajectory by mid-century, we need to mobilize predictable finance at scale and promote technology transfer to the developing world. . We need to triple investment in renewables and energy efficiency to $ 5,000 billion per year. And access to finance for developing countries must be simplified, facilitated and accelerated.
We need to shift fossil fuel subsidies back to renewables and put a price on carbon. And all development banks – multilateral, regional and national – must help countries transition their economies. Public and private funding must be urgently mobilized and deployed at scale to accelerate the global phase-out of coal-fired power generation.
Fourth, we must ensure that no one is left behind in the race to a net zero future. The global energy transition must be fair, inclusive and equitable. No two national energy transition trajectories will be identical. Investing in renewable energy – instead of spending billions to support fossil fuels – can create tens of millions of good jobs and empower the most vulnerable.
However, investments will have to be made in reconversion and in social safety nets. We can and must pursue an agenda that is good for people and the planet. The commitments made within the framework of the United Nations energy process are a real signal of what is possible.
Every country, city, financial institution, business and civil society organization has a role to play in building a sustainable and equitable energy future. I ask you all to stand up at this time and be bold. Demonstrate your commitment to this energy future in the form of an “Energy Pact”, which can provide a global roadmap for achieving our goals over the next decade. UN-Energy will continue to help [action] through the United Nations system.
Today, I call on all governments to rely on international cooperation and to provide the global support package necessary for a just, inclusive and sustainable energy transition that guarantees access to renewable energies for all.
We cannot wait another 40 years. The era of access to renewable and affordable energy for all must begin today. And I thank you.
For news media. Not an official record.