UNSG calls to redouble green energy to save climate, boost access
UN Photo/Manuel Elías
UNITED NATIONS -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres,called the international community to redouble its renewable energy efforts to avert a climate emergency and address global energy poverty.
He said at the high level summit in New York that "Today, we face a moment of truth," who described the mandate as a "double imperative to end energy poverty and to limit climate change.
Guterres said "And we have an answer that will fulfill both imperatives," affordable, renewable and sustainable energy for all."
Governments and the private sector pledged to spend over $400 billion at a high-level summit that called for an acceleration of efforts to avert catastrophic climate change.
The spending commitments include projects to expand electricity access in developing countries, boost clean cooking technologies, and improve energy efficiency as part of a drive to decarbonize the energy system.
Guterres said that some 760 million people around the world currently lack access to electricity. And the world should aim to cut that number in half by 2025.
He noted there has been some progress, with renewable energy now comprising 29 percent of global electricity generation.
"But it's not nearly fast enough," Guterres said. "We are still a long way from being able to provide affordable and clean energy for all."
UN chief said the world must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent in 2030 from 2010 levels to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.
He called for a quadrupling of solar and wind capacity by that time, part of a push to triple investments on renewable energy and energy efficiency to $5 trillion per year.
Secretary General called on authorities to phase out subsidies on fossil fuel production and "put a price on carbon."
Significant new commitments for financing clean energy, increasing renewables and improving access to electricity are announced at the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy.
It was attended by heads of state and other leaders from government, business, foundations, youth and civil society. Over 100 countries joined in.
The energy summit is a crucial step in building an international coalition for action on energy. It highlighted how some countries and businesses are moving to address the energy crisis.
The momentum was building with some announcements expected from businesses and NGOs at virtual 'Energy Action' pre-events to feed into the main dialogue.
The commitments are expected to drive even greater actions to close the huge gaps in ambition and financing required to meet the energy needs of all people while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.
It was the first energy-focused gathering of leaders at the UN in more than 40 years.
Various governments, businesses, foundations, cities, and international, civil society and youth organizations urged to present voluntary commitments in the form of "Energy Compacts" to help achieve clean, affordable energy for all by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050, targets set out in Sustainable Development Goal 7 and line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The dialogue outcome is a global roadmap for actions and timelines needed to meet energy targets by 2030. It involved inputs from expert working groups and was discussed at ministerial-level forums in June.
SG Guterres called the Dialogue "a historic opportunity" urged actions set out in the roadmap. These include accelerating the energy transition by tripling investments for renewable energy, quadrupling the rate of energy efficiency improvement, and shifting fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy, creating new green jobs and ensuring a just, inclusive transition.
Without deep energy decarbonization, the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement will fall quickly out of reach.
Guterres affirmed that decisive action must be an apolitical priority to achieve access to clean energy for the 760 million people who currently live without electricity and the 2.6 billion people still relying on harmful solid fuels for cooking.
Over 135 Energy Compacts, including several significant commitments, have been submitted from governments, businesses, UN and international organisations; foundations; financial institutions; and civil society groups, including several youth networks, from all regions.
The additional Compacts are expected to be registered in the months ahead, as momentum grows, and partnerships are expanded, with progress tracked through the 2030 target year.
Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin said “the dialogue” "A wide range of stakeholders are making a serious push towards clean energy access and transition governments, businesses, civil society leaders but much more is needed to achieve both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement."
Mr. Liu said that "The High-level Dialogue is coming at a time when the climate crisis is already dramatically impacting millions of people, and we will not be able to meet our climate goals unless we solve energy poverty and make clean energy affordable and accessible."
Energy Dialogue is an important step towards mobilizing commitments and defining the actions that will enable countries to reduce their emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by mid-century in line with the Paris Agreement, ahead of the UN climate conference in Glasgow this November (COP26) .
By Anjali Sharma