UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says rising prices prove that the world’s energy mix is broken and that G20 countries, including Australia, must abandon coal.
In a video address to a major climate conference in Austria, Antonio Guterres also said any new investment in fossil fuels was “insane.”
He said major economies were doubling their fossil fuels in response to the energy crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The war has reinforced an abject lesson: our energy mix is broken. If we had invested massively in renewable energy in the past, we would not have been so dramatically at the mercy of the instability of the fossil fuel markets.
“New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production is delusional. It will only fuel the scourge of war, pollution, and climate disasters.
“I reiterate my call on G20 governments to dismantle the coal infrastructure, with a full phase-out by 2030 for OECD countries and 2040 for all others.”
Guterres said consumers were being punished by record oil and gas prices after a decade in which the cost of solar, wind, and batteries plummeted.
His comments come as Australia’s new Labor government grapples with rising gas prices and problems with the country’s aging coal-fired power stations.
On Monday, the Australian Energy Market Operator warned of potential blackouts in Queensland and NSW.
Meanwhile, calls have been made for Australia to curtail gas exports to alleviate the energy crisis that threatens the survival of some manufacturers.
Mr. Guterres said energy security, stable power prices, and a livable planet can only be achieved by moving away from fossil fuels to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources.
From raw materials to technology, subsidies, investments, and policies, we have the tools to jump-start the transition to renewable energy.
Now is the time to use them.
The only sustainable future is a renewable one. https://t.co/42eVTYHilo pic.twitter.com/OJNSnyMMVV
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) June 10, 2022
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has already said he will not turn his back on fossil fuels, with coal and LNG exports to continue as his government aims to cut emissions by 43 percent by 2030.
Some observers have warned that Australia risks falling into the so-called Norwegian trap of clean policies at home but dirty policies abroad.
Critics say Norway’s energetic pursuit of clean, green domestic policies has been funded and undermined by an equally vigorous quest for oil and gas exports.
In 2019, a report by the Berlin-based science and policy institute Climate Analytics found that Australia could contribute as much as 17 percent to global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if pollution from fossil fuel exports is factored in.
AAP has asked Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, for comment but has received no response to the UN chief’s comments.