Guterres: Ukraine war could widen, world needs renewable energy revolution

United Nations, Feb 6 (EFE).- United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday, in a speech presenting his priorities for 2023, warned the General Assembly that there is a strong possibility that the conflict in Ukraine could worsen and become a “wider war.”

“The prospects for peace keep diminishing. The chances of further escalation and bloodshed keep growing. I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a wider war. I fear it’s doing so with its eyes wide open,” Guterres said in a speech before the General Assembly in New York.

Guterres emphasized that “The Russian invasion of Ukraine is inflicting end-all suffering on the Ukrainian people with profound global implications.”

In his somber address, the UN chief noted that experts believe that the planet has never been closer to self-destruction, specifically as a result of a nuclear war, noting that the so-called Doomsday Clock was recently set at 90 seconds to midnight as of Jan. 1, 2023, 10 seconds closer than it was set in January 2020 and the closest it has ever been.

Guterres said that now is the time to once again put arms control in the center of the international debate with an eye toward reducing the threat of nuclear weapons use and working toward their elimination.

“The so-called `tactical’ use of nuclear weapons is absurd,” he said, referring to Russia’s recent threats to go nuclear in Ukraine if the Kremlin feels some “red line” has been crossed to its disadvantage. “We are at the highest risk in decades of a nuclear war that could start by accident or design. We need to end the threat posed by 13,000 nuclear weapons held in arsenals around the world.”

Besides the dangers of war and geopolitical breakdown, Guterres called attention to other crises including climate change and income inequality, both of which he said are putting the world in its most complicated situation in a generation.

He said that this is a road without an off-ramp and the world needs to make a “course correction” and politicians and business leaders need to stop thinking short term, looking ahead only to the next elections or the next business cycle or daily stock prices.

Thinking short term at a time like this, he said, is deeply “irresponsible” and “immoral.”

He said that 2023 must also be “a year of game-changing climate action,” not of making excuses or incremental steps, and he lambasted the “bottomless greed of the fossil fuel industry and its enablers,” saying that this attitude must end.

The Portuguese UN chief criticized the fossil fuel sector for the “monster profits” it is making, saying that “We need a renewables revolution, not a self-destructive fossil fuel resurgence.”

He said that the fight against climate change is one of the pillars of his program and insisted that all companies, including energy companies, should work to meet international goals in this area.

Guterres said that any company that is incapable of setting a credible course toward carbon neutrality, with clear targets for 2025 and 2030, “should not be in business.”

In recent weeks, petroleum and fossil fuel firms have announced record profits and they are viewed as profiting from the growing scarcity of energy products resulting from the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia by many nations.

Guterres said that 2023 must be a year of complete change in the fight against climate change, with much more decisive actions taken to reduce polluting emissions.

He also called for a September climate summit in New York City to which all governments and companies are invited but with the stipulation that they make new commitments there.

“Show us accelerated action in this decade and renewed ambitious net zero plans – or please don’t show up,” said the UN leader.

EFE mvs/fjo/enb/bp

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