UN chief: Don’t let Russia’s crisis become fuel for climate change

The UN chief says countries pushing to replace Russia’s oil, gas and coal supplies with any available alternative could fuel “mutually guaranteed destruction” of the world through climate change.

BERLIN – Countries replacing Russia’s oil, gas and coal supply with any available alternative could fuel climate change’s “mutually guaranteed destruction” of the world, the UN chief warned on Monday.

“Countries are so consumed by the immediate supply of fossil fuels that they neglect to reduce the use of fossil fuels or ignore knee-cap policies,” he said in a video at an event hosted by The Economist Weekly. “It’s insanity. Fossil fuel addiction is mutually certain destruction.”

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

In the United States, White House spokeswoman Jane Sackie said earlier this month that the war in Ukraine was “a reason for American oil and gas producers to get more supplies from our country’s soil.”

Guterres said that “instead of hitting the brakes on the decarbonization of the global economy, now is the time to paddle metal into the future of renewable energy.”

His comments came as scientists on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change began a two-week meeting to finalize their latest report on global efforts to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

A separate report released last month found that half of the human race is already at serious risk due to climate change and that it will increase with every tenth of global warming.

Guterres said the Paris climate agreement aimed at limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) was “in support of life” because countries were not doing enough to reduce emissions.

Temperatures are now about 1.2C higher than before industrialization, requiring a 45% reduction in global emissions by 2030 to keep the Paris target alive, he said.

But after an epidemic-related decline in 2020, emissions rose sharply again last year.

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

Guterres called on the world’s largest developed and emerging economies to reduce their emissions, including their rapid reliance on coal – the most polluting fossil fuels – and to hold private companies to account for its use.

Hundreds of scientists in Britain and the United States released an open letter on Monday urging academic institutions to stop receiving funding from fossil fuel companies to study climate change.

In his inaugural address at the IPCC meeting on Monday, the head of the UN climate office called on governments to take immediate steps to meet the 2030 target – the European Union’s goal of reducing emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels.

“Long-term plans are important and they are needed,” said Patricia Espinosa. “But if global leaders, public and private, do not make progress in the next two years and set clear plans for climate action, the 2050 plans may become irrelevant.”

The IPCC report, released on April 4, is not expected to include a direct reference to the effects of the war in Ukraine, said Jim Skeya, who wrote it, as vice-chairman of the expert panel.

“Our strength lies in increasingly creating scientific information over time and buying it by governments and scientists,” he said. “And you won’t be able to do that once you turn on Sixtpens to deal with current issues.”

However, different energy policies will outline how future emissions trends will be affected. This includes plans to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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

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