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COP28: ‘A burning planet can’t be saved by fossil fuels’ — UN chief makes case for renewables

COP28: ‘A burning planet can’t be saved by fossil fuels’ — UN chief makes case for renewables
December 01
11:52 2023

Antonio Guterres, United Nations secretary general, says the world must accelerate a just, equitable transition to renewable energy.

Speaking during the opening of the World Climate Action Summit at COP28, Guterres said renewables are needed to heal the planet, clean the air and meet the world’s growing energy demand.

He said there is a need to phase out fossil fuels completely and not reduce or abate them because the planet cannot be saved with a “firehose of fossil fuels”. 

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“Renewable energy is the gift that keeps on giving. It is good for our planet, our health, and our economies. Cleaning our air. Meeting the world’s growing energy demand,” he said.

“Connecting millions of people to affordable electricity. Bringing stability and security to markets. And saving money — renewable energy has never been cheaper.

“We cannot save a burning planet with a firehose of fossil fuels. We must accelerate a just, equitable transition to renewables.

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“The science is clear: The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce. Not abate. Phaseout — with a clear timeframe aligned with 1.5 degrees.”

Guterres added that the global stocktake — an inventory of climate action performance of countries —  must commit to tripling renewable energy and making it available to all by 2030.

He also encouraged the fossil fuel industry to lead the way in the transition to renewables because the old way of fossils is rapidly aging and there is no need to double-down on an obsolete business.

“The Global Stocktake must not only commit to that — it must also commit to triple renewables; double energy efficiency; and bring clean energy to all by 2030,” he said. 

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“The economics are clear: the global shift to renewables is inevitable.

“The only question is how much heating our planet will endure before it happens. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recommended ending our addiction to coal by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 for the rest of the world.

“At the same time, according to the International Energy Agency, the oil and gas industry accounts for just one per cent of clean energy investment.

“So, I have a message for fossil fuel company leaders: Your old road is rapidly aging. Do not double-down on an obsolete business model. Lead the transition to renewables.

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“Make no mistake — the road to climate sustainability is also the only viable pathway to economic sustainability of your companies.

“I urge governments to help industry make the right choice — by regulating, legislating, putting a fair price on carbon, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and adopting a windfall tax on profits.”

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