UN chief says response to climate crisis has been ‘pitiful,’ slams energy companies

United Nations, Jun 15 (EFE).- The United Nations’ secretary general on Thursday characterized the response to the climate crisis as “pitiful” and warned that the world is heading for disaster.

In his remarks, Antonio Guterres also said energy companies are mainly to blame for the situation because they are channeling nearly all of their vast resources toward oil and natural gas exploration and production.

Anti-global warming measures must be radically accelerated, according to the Portuguese politician and diplomat, who said the fossil fuel companies must lead the way.

“Last year, the oil and gas industry reaped a record $4 trillion windfall in net income. Yet for every dollar it spends on oil and gas drilling and exploration, only four cents went to clean energy and carbon capture combined,” Guterres told reporters at the UN’s headquarters in New York.

“Trading the future for 30 pieces of silver is immoral,” the UN chief said, accusing the energy giants of failing to fulfill even the minimum objectives that they themselves have set.

He therefore called on that sector to present new transition plans that are credible and detailed and cover all of their activities, to set clear, short-term objectives for shifting to clean energy and to stop resorting to “influence-peddling and legal threats designed to knee-cap progress.”

Guterres pointed in particular to “recent attempts to subvert net-zero alliances (by) invoking anti-trust legislation.”

The UN secretary-general also said financial institutions need to present detailed plans for divesting their fossil-fuel assets and commit to halting their financing and investments in new coal infrastructure and the exploration of new oil and gas fields.

He made his remarks after meeting with civil society climate leaders in preparation for the next UN global climate summit (COP28) from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 in Dubai.

Guterres said that at a moment in human history when accelerated action is needed to combat climate change “I see a lack of ambition, a lack of trust, a lack of support, a lack of cooperation and an abundance of problems around clarity and credibility.”

“Current policies are taking the world to a 2.8-degree (C) temperature rise by the end of the century. That spells catastrophe. Yet, the collective response remains pitiful,” he added.

According to the UN chief, the world is “hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open,” even as far too many people are counting on “unproven technologies and silver-bullet solutions.”

“It’s time to wake up and step up,” said Guterres, who added that there is still time to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

That will require a 45 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, according to Guterres, who said that ambitious target can only be achieved if the biggest emitters make additional commitments and the wealthiest countries provide greater economic support to the nations of the developing world.

In the longer term, all countries must eventually rely exclusively on clean energy, he added.

“Let’s face facts. The problem is not simply fossil-fuel emissions. It’s fossil fuels, period. The solution is clear. The world must phase out fossil fuels in a just and equitable way, moving to leave oil, coal and gas in the ground where they belong and massively boosting renewable investment.” EFE


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