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UN Secretary-General Guterres calls for a fast global transition to renewable energy

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants a fast transition from fossil fuels as the International Energy Agency celebrates its 50th Anniversary. 

In a video statement released on Wednesday, Guterres said the IEA has carved out a critical role at the centre of the renewables revolutions. 

“Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius ultimately depends on putting an end to fossil fuels. The IEA has shown the astonishing speed at which renewables prices are falling and renewables roll out is happening “, said Guterres.  

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres at a past event.

At the tail end of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in December, participating countries and stakeholders approved a roadmap for transitioning away from fossil fuels. 

116 countries signed the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge to triple worldwide installed renewable energy generation capacity to at least 11,000 gigawatts and to double the global average annual rate of energy efficiency

Guterres, in his address, reminded players that too many emerging and developing countries are being left behind in the journey to cheap clean renewable energy. 

“We need finance to flow to renewables, particularly by reforming the business models of multilateral development banks, to leverage far more private finance at reasonable prices to developing countries. We need all countries to implement all commitments made at COP28, to triple global renewables capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030, to accelerate the move away from fossil fuels this decade, and to create ambitious new economy-wide national climate plans aligned with 1.5-degree limit by 2025.”

FILE PHOTO – People are silhouetted against a logo for the COP28 UN Climate Summit, Nov. 29, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool, File)

Data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that fossil fuel emissions are a leading cause of global warming. IPCC data further reveals that coal is a major culprit, taking credit for 0.3 degrees of the 1-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures. 

“The work of the IEA is helping to demonstrate that phasing out fossil fuels is economically inevitable and environmentally essential. The end of the fossil era is assured,” said Guterres. The only questions are will we move fast enough to limit the worst in climate chaos and will the transition to renewables be fair, just, and equitable?”

The UN chief ended his address by urging the IEA to intensify technical support to countries preparing the next round of climate action plans. He says the IEA should also help those countries create ambitious practical plans to attract private investment. He urges these nations to back up their plans with credible climate policies. 

FILE PHOTO – steel chimneys of the Salzgitter Steel Company plant emit large amounts of water vapor and waste gas in Salzgitter, Germany.

A 2023 report by the UN Environment Programme shows however, that making said transition still faces challenges. It points out that major producer countries pledged to achieve net-zero emissions and launched initiatives to reduce emissions from fossil fuel production. But none commit to reducing coal, oil, and gas production in line with limiting warming to 1.5 Celsius.

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