UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Thursday that the world is hurtling towards a climate change disaster, while criticising the global response as “pitiful”.
Mr Guterres, who is hosting a climate summit in New York in September, noted that current policies would lead to a staggering 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century.
“We are hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open – with far too many willing to bet it all on wishful thinking, unproven technologies and silver bullet solutions,” he told reporters in New York after meeting with civil society groups.
“That spells catastrophe.”
He stressed the 1.5°C goal is “still possible” but would require accelerating the transition to a green economy.
“All of this action must be global. It must be immediate. And it must start with the polluted heart of the climate crisis: the fossil fuel industry,” he warned.
He called on the fossil fuel industry to massively boost renewable investment in a “just transition”.
Earlier this month, at a meeting of the heads of delegation at the Bonn Climate Change Conference in Germany, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Cop28 President-designate, had said there must be transformational shifts, but that these must come in tandem with energy security.
The transition must not only meet the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C but represent a just and inclusive package, bringing all countries and regions along.
He had described the work in Bonn as crucial to success at the Cop28 meeting in the UAE in November.
“A transition that promotes policies and investments that scale up renewable energy, while working towards an energy system that is free of unabated fossil fuels,” he had said.
“The phase-down of fossil fuels is inevitable. The speed at which this happens depends on how quickly we can phase up zero carbon alternatives, while ensuring energy security, accessibility and affordability.”
Highlighting the stark disparity in investment, Mr Guterres noted that despite the oil and gas industry’s record-breaking $4 trillion net income last year, only 4 cents of every dollar spent on oil and gas drilling and exploration went “to clean energy and carbon capture – combined”.
“Trading the future for 30 pieces of silver is immoral,” he said.