UN chief: Don’t let Russian crisis ‘shatter’ climate goals

(BERLIN, Germany) — Countries scrambling to replace Russian supplies of oil, gas and coal with any available alternative could fuel the world’s “mutually assured destruction” from climate change, the United Nations chief warned on Monday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the “all of the above” strategy currently being pursued by major economies to end fossil fuel imports from Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine could killing hope to keep global warming below dangerous levels.

“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 seek more supply 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. .

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