By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres has again urged all leaders to choose the clean energy route.
Guterres made the call in his remarks to the International Energy Agency Clean Energy Transition Summit on Thursday.
The Secretary-General said the transition to clean energy was necessary for three reasons.
He said for health, “Worldwide, outdoor air pollution is causing close to 9 million early deaths every year and shortening human lifespans by an average of three years.
“This is a bigger toll on life expectancy than tobacco smoking.
The second reason is for sake of science.
“All around the world, every month, there is new evidence of the increasing toll of climate disruption.
“We must limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avert more and worse disasters. This means net-zero emissions by 2050, and 45 per cent cuts by 2030 from 2010 levels.
He said economically, clean energy is cheaper.
“Per kilowatt hour, solar energy is now cheaper than coal in most countries.
‘If we had any doubt about the direction the wind is blowing, the real economy is showing us. The business case for renewable energy is now better than coal in virtually every market.
“Fossil fuels are increasingly risky business with fewer takers. Commercial investment houses, such as Blackrock and Credit Agricole, are asking companies to change their business models.
According to him, “it is vital that we bring sharper focus on the need to transition away from fossil fuels and toward a clean energy future — a future that protects people and planet and promotes prosperity.
“Today, nations are taking far-reaching decisions as they channel trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into recovery strategies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we design and implement these recovery plans, we have a choice. We can go back to where we were, or we can invest in a better, more sustainable future.
“We can invest in fossil fuels, whose markets are volatile and whose emissions lead to lethal air pollution. Or, we can invest in renewable energy, which is reliable, clean and economically smart.
He commended some countries that put their COVID response and recovery plans with transition from fossil fuels at their core.
“The European Union and the Republic of Korea have committed to green recovery plans. Nigeria has reformed its fossil fuel subsidy framework. Canada has placed climate disclosure conditions on its bail-out support.
“And a growing number of coalitions of investors and real economy stakeholders are advocating for a recovery aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“But many have still not got the message. Some countries have used stimulus plans to prop up oil and gas companies that were already struggling financially.
“Others have chosen to jumpstart coal-fired power plants that don’t make financial or environmental sense.
“New research on G20 recovery packages released this week shows that twice as much recovery money — taxpayers’ money – has been spent on fossil fuels as clean energy.
He said further: “I have asked all countries to consider six climate positive actions as they rescue, rebuild and reset their economies.
“We need to make our societies more resilient. We need green jobs and sustainable growth.
“Bailout support to sectors such as industry, aviation and shipping should be conditioned on alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“We need to stop wasting money on fossil fuel subsidies and place a price on carbon. We need to consider climate risk in our decision making. Every financial decision must take account of environmental and social impacts.
“This is more important than ever in the coming months as companies, investors and countries make big financial decisions about the future
“We need investors to demand that companies reveal transition plans to reach net zero emissions.
“Overall, we need to work together. The seeds of change are there. Renewable energy is the only energy source expected to grow in 2020.
“Solar auctions have seen popularity amidst the height of the pandemic.
“India serves as a good example. Renewables offer three times more jobs than the fossil fuel industry.
“Let us commit to no new coal, today, and end all external financing of coal in the developing world.
“Coal has no place in COVID-19 recovery plans. Nations must commit to net-zero emissions by 2050 and submit more ambitious national climate plans before COP-26 next year.”