Secretary-General warns Austrian World Summit, calls renewables 21st century peace plan – World
Here is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Sixth Austrian World Summit in Vienna today:
I thank the Austrian government and Arnold Schwarzenegger for convening this important annual summit. It comes at a pivotal moment. It is fifty years since the United Nations convened the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. But since then, few of our environmental promises have been kept.
The window to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis is closing fast. Our planet has already warmed by 1.2°C. To keep the 1.5°C target within reach, we need to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by mid-century.
But current national commitments will lead to an increase of almost 14% during this decade. Last year, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased by 6% when they are expected to decline.
Let me be blunt: most national climate pledges are simply not good enough. It’s not just my point of view. Science and public opinion give half-hearted climate policies a huge failure. We are witnessing a historic and dangerous disconnect: science and citizens are demanding ambitious and transformative climate action. Meanwhile, many governments are dragging their feet.
This inaction has serious consequences. Climate change is being felt right now, with nearly half of humanity in the danger zone. And, at a time when we should all be united in the fight for our lives, senseless wars are tearing us apart.
The war-exacerbated energy crisis in Ukraine has led to a perilous doubling of fossil fuels by major economies. The war reinforced an abject lesson: our energy mix is broken. If we had invested heavily in renewables in the past, we would not be so dramatically at the mercy of volatile fossil fuel markets.
Households and businesses face crippling prices. Our world is facing climate chaos. New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production infrastructure is illusory. This will only further fuel the scourge of war, pollution and climate catastrophe.
I reiterate my appeal to the G20 [Group of 20] Governments to dismantle coal infrastructure, with complete phase-out by 2030 for OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries and 2040 for all others. And I call on all financial players to abandon the financing of fossil fuels and to invest in renewable energies.
The only real path to energy security, stable electricity prices, prosperity and a livable planet is to move away from polluting fossil fuels, especially coal, and accelerate the energy transition based on renewables.
Renewable energy is the peace plan of the 21st century. Cheaper, more reliable and fairer energy options are already available in the form of wind and solar power. This is true for all regions. The cost of solar power and batteries has dropped 85% over the past decade. The cost of wind energy has fallen by 55%. In contrast, oil and gas reached record price levels. And investing in renewables creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels.
This is why I have proposed five concrete actions to relaunch the transition to renewable energies. First, make renewable energy technology a global public good, including removing intellectual property barriers to technology transfer.
Second, improve global access to supply chains for renewable energy technology components and raw materials. Third, reform the bureaucracies and red tape that block gigawatts of renewable energy projects. We need accelerated approvals for solar and wind projects and more efforts to modernize power grids.
Fourth, the world must shift energy subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables, while addressing the potential consequences for the most vulnerable people. And fifth, we need to triple investment in renewable energy. This includes multilateral development banks and development finance institutions, as well as commercial banks.
All must step up and dramatically increase investment in renewable energy. And, as climate impacts worsen, we also need to invest far more in adaptation and building resilience to protect lives and livelihoods. This requires elevating adaptation action on a par with emissions reduction efforts, doubling adaptation funding from 2019 levels.
And that means ensuring that every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years. I count on this meeting to amplify these messages. Let’s work together for an inclusive transition to a sustainable world. Thanks.