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Climate Crisis World’s ‘Number One Emergency’, Fossil Fuel Usage Must End, Says Secretary-General, in Remarks to Major Economies Forum

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ virtual remarks to the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, in Washington, D.C. today:

I thank United States President Joseph R. Biden for this opportunity.

I will be brief and, if you’ll allow me, I will be blunt.  You represent the major economies — and the major emitters — of the world.

The first duty of leadership is to protect people from clear and present dangers.  Now, nothing could be more clear or present than the danger of fossil fuel expansion.  Even in the short term, it doesn’t make political or economic sense.  Yet, we seem trapped in a world where fossil fuel producers and financiers have humanity by the throat.

For decades, many in the fossil fuel industry has invested heavily in pseudo-science and public relations — with a false narrative to minimize their responsibility for climate change and undermine ambitious climate policies.

They exploited precisely the same scandalous tactics as big tobacco decades before.  Like tobacco interests, fossil fuel interests and their financial accomplices must not escape responsibility.

The argument of putting climate action aside to deal with domestic problems also rings hollow.  Had we invested earlier and massively in renewable energy, we would not find ourselves once again at the mercy of unstable fossil fuel markets.

So, let’s make sure the war in Ukraine is not used to increase that dependency.

Today’s most pressing domestic problems — like inflation and gas prices — are themselves climate and fossil fuel problems.  Without bolder climate action, these and other related problems are just the tip of a fast-melting iceberg.

The math is simple.  The current model of infinite growth in a world of finite physical resources will deliver a permanent triple whammy of inflation, climate chaos and conflict.

The solution is equally clear:  we do have infinite resources at our disposal when it comes to energy needs.  Wind, sun and tides never run out.

If we can successfully replace finite, polluting fossil fuels with infinite renewable resources, we can make the energy equation add up.  We can put stable prices and sustainable economic growth within reach.  These renewable energy sources are already cheaper than fossil fuels and create three times more jobs.

Renewables not only fight the climate crisis, they support energy security.

The time for hedging bets has ended.  The world has gambled on fossil fuels and lost.  That is why I have put forward a five-point plan for a renewable energy revolution:

Treat renewable technologies as a freely available global public good.

Expand and diversify renewable energy supply chains.

Shift fossil fuel subsidies to vulnerable people that want to engage in the green economy.

Reform bureaucracies to fast-track approval processes.

And triple public and private investments in renewables to at least $4 trillion dollars a year.

The climate crisis is our number one emergency.

Renewables are the peace plan of the twenty-first century, together with all the new technologies that President Biden has referred to.

I count on your Governments to end the age of fossil fuels.

The renewables revolution starts now.

For information media. Not an official record.