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Transition from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy ‘Challenge of Our Generation’, Secretary-General Tells China Coal Consumption Cap Workshop

Following is the text of UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ video message to the 2020 China Coal Consumption Cap and Energy Transition International Workshop, held today:

I am pleased to greet you today, and to thank you for the work of the China Coal Consumption Cap project.  This work is helping China to pursue higher quality economic growth and build the foundation for a sustainable future for all people in all regions.

As we work for socioeconomic recovery from the COVID‑19 pandemic, the investments we make must be in sustainable technologies and infrastructure that will help us address climate disruption and promote resilient carbon‑neutral progress.  A sustainable recovery should speed the transition from fossil fuels ‑ especially coal and oil ‑ and aim to create decent green jobs.  Every nation needs a clean economy that provides a healthier environment for people to thrive.

Soon, I will co‑host a Climate Action Summit on the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement.  We are calling for countries to increase their ambition in fighting climate change by enhancing their commitments under the Paris Agreement.  That means more ambitious nationally determined contributions and long‑term strategies, along with concrete policies to phase out of fossil fuels.  Our goal is global net‑zero emissions by 2050.  We are working hard to forge a global net‑zero alliance for carbon neutrality.

For a long time, I have been advocating for the elimination of subsidies to fossil fuels and to stop building new coal power plants.  So, I am greatly encouraged by President Xi Jinping’s announcement that China will peak its emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.  This commitment shows China’s determination to play its role in accelerating the global transition from fossil fuels to renewables and other zero‑carbon technologies.

Wind and solar are already cheaper than coal power in most of the world, including many parts of China.  And energy storage, which is also falling in price, will make these technologies the clear choice economically and environmentally for providing electricity to all.  China is also quickly developing offshore wind generation.  It will become a leader in this sector in this decade, providing coastal provinces with a new and large source of zero‑carbon power and jobs.

The transition from coal and oil to clean energy is the challenge of our generation.  If we work together, we can ensure a smooth and just transition to a new low‑carbon economy.  Countries can learn from each other how best to help their workers benefit from low‑carbon jobs.  Workshops such as yours are a valuable resource.

I commend the work you are doing to help China to meet its climate and environmental goals.  And I wish you a productive meeting.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.