U.N. Chief Warns of ‘Catastrophe’ With Continued Use of Fossil Fuels

WASHINGTON — International locations are “sleepwalking to local weather disaster” in the event that they proceed to depend on fossil fuels, and nations racing to exchange Russian oil, fuel and coal with their very own soiled vitality are making issues worse, United Nations Secretary Normal António Guterres warned on Monday.

The formidable guarantees world leaders made final 12 months at a local weather summit in Glasgow have been “naïve optimism,” Mr. Guterres stated. Nations are nowhere close to the objective of limiting the common world temperature rise to 1.5 levels Celsius by the top of this century. That’s the brink past which scientists say the probability of catastrophic impacts will increase considerably. The planet has already warmed a mean of 1.1 levels Celsius.

And the air pollution that’s dangerously heating the planet is constant to extend. World emissions are set to rise by 14 p.c within the 2020s, and emissions from coal proceed to surge, he stated.

“The 1.5 diploma objective is on life help. It’s in intensive care,” Mr. Guterres stated in remarks delivered to a summit The Economist is internet hosting on sustainability through video handle.

“We’re sleepwalking to local weather disaster,” he stated. “If we proceed with extra of the identical, we are able to kiss 1.5 goodbye. Even 2 levels could also be out of attain. And that might be disaster.”

Mr. Guterres’s speech comes because the European Union is looking for methods to scale back its dependence on Russian oil and fuel, and international locations like the USA are scrambling to extend fossil gas manufacturing to stabilize vitality markets. President Biden and European leaders have stated that the short-term wants won’t upend their longer-term imaginative and prescient of shifting to wind, photo voltaic and different renewable sources that don’t produce harmful greenhouse fuel emissions.

However the U.N. secretary common stated he fears that technique endangers the objective of fast discount of fossil gas burning. Protecting the planet at secure ranges means slashing emissions worldwide 45 p.c by 2050, scientists have stated.

In Glasgow in November world leaders promised to stave off local weather change and, for the primary time, deliberate to “part down” coal — the dirtiest fossil gas. Leaders from 100 international locations additionally pledged to cease deforestation by 2030, a transfer thought-about important since bushes take up carbon dioxide. America, Europe and about 100 different nations additionally stated they’d reduce methane emissions 30 p.c by 2030. Methane is a potent greenhouse fuel produced from oil and fuel operations.

However there was virtually no progress, Mr. Guterres stated. As well as, wealthy international locations most chargeable for polluting the planet haven’t met their obligation to assist the poorest international locations — already “slammed” by excessive inflation, rising rates of interest and debt — to develop clear vitality, he stated.

On the similar time, he warned, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is upending world vitality markets, additional undermining local weather targets.

“As main economies pursue an ‘all-of-the-above’ technique to exchange Russian fossil fuels, short-term measures would possibly create long-term fossil gas dependence and shut the window to 1.5 levels,” Mr. Guterres stated.

He cautioned international locations might turn into so centered on the quick must fill the oil, fuel and coal hole “that they neglect or kneecap insurance policies to chop fossil gas use.”

“That is insanity,” he stated. “Dependancy to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.”

Final week the Worldwide Vitality Company warned that the world confronted its first world vitality disaster, and really useful that main economies preserve vitality by implementing 10 methods, from carpooling to touring by practice as an alternative of airplane.

In his speech, Mr. Guterres stated rich nations must be dismantling coal infrastructure to part it out fully by 2030, with different nations doing so by 2040. He referred to as for an finish to fossil gas subsidies and a halt to new oil and fuel exploration. Mr. Guterres additionally stated non-public sector financing for coal should finish.

“Their help for coal not solely might value the world its local weather targets,” he stated. “It’s a silly funding — resulting in billions in stranded belongings.”

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents oil and fuel corporations, stated in an announcement that the business “can responsibly develop America’s huge sources whereas on the similar time lowering emissions to deal with local weather change.”

President Biden has promised a fast clear vitality transition in the USA but it surely has not began but. Laws he has championed to hasten the shift to renewable vitality, the Construct Again Higher Act, is stalled in Congress. In the meantime, his plans to cease new oil and fuel leasing have confronted challenges within the courts.

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