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As Climate Crisis Worsens, More Investment Urgently Needed to Ensure Net Zero Emissions Future, Deputy Secretary-General Tells International Renewable Energy Agency Assembly

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message to the twelfth session of the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on 15 January:

Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, I am pleased to address the twelfth Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency.  I thank the United Arab Emirates for hosting this timely meeting on the energy transition as we work to move from commitment to action.

As we enter 2022, we are yet again faced with a multitude of challenges.  Another wave of COVID-19 is ravaging people and nations, in large part due to vaccine inequity.  The climate crisis is worsening as the world heats up.  And we are facing a sustainable energy crisis that must be solved with people at the centre.

And yet — there is reason for hope.  As we leave 2021 behind, we can look back at two international meetings that have seen the global community step up with ambitious commitments and pledges to deliver on our common goals — the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are built on the principle of leaving no one behind, and the outcomes from the High-Level Dialogue on Energy, in September last year, and COP26 [the Twenty-Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)], in Glasgow, have reiterated this imperative.

The High-Level Dialogue on Energy in September last year delivered more than 200 Energy Compacts from national and local governments, businesses, philanthropy, financial institutions, civil society, and youth organizations from every region, reflecting actions and finance commitments throughout 2030.

The Global Energy Roadmap, presented as an outcome of the High-Level Dialogue on Energy by the Secretary-General, provided essential milestones for the global energy transition and for climate action to translate these commitments into action.

First, we need decisive progress to close the energy access gap by 2030.  We must ensure access to clean renewable energy for the 760 million people who currently live without electricity and for the 2.6 billion who still rely on harmful fuels for cooking.  Second, rapidly transitioning to decarbonized energy systems means that Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations must lead on phasing out coal by 2030 and the rest of the world must follow by 2040.

Third, global investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency should be tripled by 2030.  Shifting fossil fuel subsidies to renewables, putting a price on carbon and ensuring the poor do not suffer in the process will be crucial as part of a just and inclusive transition to a net-zero future.

Further COP26 recognized the importance of the energy transition and phasing down unabated coal, making the need for an accelerated, just and inclusive energy transition even more central to the global climate agenda.

We have made important progress but much more needs to be done.  Urgently.  Let me highlight two of the most urgent priorities to ensure our commitments will result in action this year:

First, the Secretary-General has called for the creation of coalitions of public and private finance to provide packages of support to rapidly scale up investments in countries that request assistance with their energy transition to provide affordable and clean energy to all, especially the most vulnerable, leaving no one behind.  Second, I call on you all to integrate a just and inclusive energy transition into every aspect of your national policies.

With less than a decade to act to achieve the SDGs and keep the 1.5°C goal within reach, time is tight.  I look forward to working with all of you this year when we move from commitment to action.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.