UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for efforts to accelerate the transition to renewable energy, saying the renewable energy is the “lifeline” to ending climate change.
Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rises, ocean heat levels and acidification, all set new records during 2021, while some glaciers reached the point of no return, according to the latest flagship report from the World Meteorological Organization, published on Wednesday.
The State of the Climate 2021 indicates that extreme weather – the day-to-day face of climate change – wreaked a heavy toll of human lives, triggered shocks for food and water security, and led to hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses last year, Xinhua news agency reported.
The report, which describes yet more clear signs that human activity is causing harm on a planetary scale, also confirms that the past seven years have been the warmest on record, with global temperature in 2021 reaching about 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Noting the report is a “dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption,” the UN chief said that while time is running out to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis, there is a “lifeline” right in front.
“We must end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the renewable energy transition before we incinerate our only home… Transforming energy systems is low-hanging fruit,” he emphasised in a video message.
Highlighting that renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar are readily available and in most cases, cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels, the top UN official proposed critical actions to jump-start the energy transition, which he called the “peace project of the 21st century.”
Guterres called for treating renewable energy technologies as essential global public goods, securing, scaling up and diversifying the supply components and raw materials for renewable energy technologies.
He also urged efforts to build frameworks and reform fossil fuel bureaucracies.
The UN chief calls on governments to fast-track and streamline approvals of solar and wind projects, modernize grids and set ambitious renewable energy targets that provide certainty to investors, developers, consumers and producers.
The secretary-general called for shifting subsidies away from fossil fuels.
“While people suffer from high prices at the pump, the oil and gas industry is raking in billions from a distorted market. This scandal must stop,” Guterres pointed out.
“It’s time to jump-start the renewable energy transition before it’s too late,” the secretary-general said.