UN chief: Don’t let Russian crisis fuel climate destruction


UN chief says countries working to replace Russian oil, gas and coal supplies with any available alternative could fuel world’s ‘mutual assured destruction’ from climate change

BERLIN — Countries scrambling to replace Russian supplies of oil, gas and coal with whatever alternative is available could fuel the world’s “mutual assured destruction” from climate change, the UN chief warned on Monday.

“Countries could become so wrapped up in the immediate fossil fuel supply shortfall that they neglect or impose policies to reduce fossil fuel use,” he said via video at an event. by the weekly The Economist. “This is madness. Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.

Germany, one of Russia’s biggest energy customers, wants to increase its supply of oil from the Gulf and speed up the construction of terminals to receive liquefied natural gas.

In the United States, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier this month that the war in Ukraine was a reason for American oil and gas producers “to go and get more supplies in our own country”.

António Guterres said that “instead of stalling the decarbonization of the global economy, now is the time to put the pedal to the metal towards a renewable energy future”.

His comments came as scientists from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change began a two-week meeting to finalize their latest report on global efforts to curb emissions of warming greenhouse gases. the planet.

A separate report, published last month, revealed that half of humanity is already at serious risk from climate change and that this will increase with every tenth of a degree of warming.

António Guterres said the Paris climate agreement target of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) was “alive” because countries are not doing enough to reduce climate change. emissions.

With temperatures already around 1.2°C higher than they were before industrialisation, maintaining the Paris target requires a 45% reduction in global emissions by 2030, he said. he declares.

But after a pandemic-related decline in 2020, emissions rose sharply again last year.

“If we continue with the same, we can say goodbye to 1.5,” he said. “Even 2 degrees can be out of reach. And that would be a disaster.

Guterres urged the world’s largest developed and emerging economies to drastically reduce their emissions, including quickly ending their reliance on coal – the dirtiest fossil fuel – and holding accountable private companies that continue to support its use. .

Hundreds of scientists in Britain and the United States published an open letter on Monday calling on academic institutions to stop accepting funding from fossil fuel companies for climate change research.

Speaking at the opening of the IPCC meeting on Monday, the head of the UN’s climate office urged governments to take immediate action so that 2030 targets – such as the European Union target to reduce emissions by 55% below 1990 levels – can be achieved.

“Long term plans are important and they are necessary,” said Patricia Espinosa. “But if world leaders, public and private, don’t move forward and lay out clear plans for climate action over the next two years, plans for 2050 may well be irrelevant.”

The IPCC report to be released on April 4 should not include direct references to the impacts of the war in Ukraine, said Jim Skea, co-chair of the expert panel that drafted it.

“Our strength lies in the gradual build-up of scientific information over a period of time and its buy-in by governments as well as scientists,” he said. “And you can’t do that at the same time as turning on sixpence to settle the day-to-day business.”

However, it will describe how various energy policies will affect emissions trends in the future. These include plans to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere again.

“It’s a much bigger accent than before,” Skea said.

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Follow AP’s coverage of climate change at https://apnews.com/hub/climate

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