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"Fossil Fuels Are A Dead End," UN Secretary-General Says

Fossil fuels are a dead end and the only sustainable future for the planet is accelerating the energy transition, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday, launching the State of the Global Climate 2021 report, which showed that four key climate change indicators set new records last year.

The UN presented a five-point plan to jump-start the renewable energy revolution, which, Guterres says, has received a wake-up call following the Russian war in Ukraine and the immediate effects on energy prices.

According to the World Meteorological Organization's State of the Global Climate 2021 report, four key indicators of climate change – greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat, and ocean acidification – set new records in 2021.  

"The key to tackling this crisis is to end our reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels - the main cause of climate change," the UN said.

Guterres outlined five critical actions that the UN believes the world needs to prioritize now in order to accelerate the shift to renewable energy. These include making renewable energy technology available to all; improving global access to components and raw materials; leveling the playing field for renewable energy technologies; shifting energy subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy; and tripling investments in renewables as the world needs investments of at least $4 trillion a year until 2030 if it has any chance of reaching net zero by 2050.

Related: Russia Will Force Oil Buyers To Pay More If EU Introduces Tariffs

"Fossil fuels are a dead end — environmentally and economically. The war in Ukraine and its immediate effects on energy prices is yet another wake-up call. The only sustainable future is a renewable one. We must end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the renewable energy transition, before we incinerate our only home," Guterres said.

"But most of all, it's time for leaders — public and private alike — to stop talking about renewables as a distant project of the future.

Because without renewables, there can be no future," he added.

Just last week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that renewable power capacity additions could lose momentum next year unless new and stronger policies are adopted soon. Growth in renewables would have been faster without the current supply chain and logistical challenges, the IEA said. Increased commodity and freight prices will keep costs for renewable technology higher compared to pre-pandemic levels this year and next, reversing a decade of cost declines.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • T G on May 18 2022 said:
    Oil is limited as well as the elements to make batteries. Batteries are just another disaster down the road. Natural gas should be the wave of the future for cleaner energy.
  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 18 2022 said:
    That is the theory but the reality is different altogether and it is the reality that matters.

    And the reality is that fossil fuels are here to stay. They will continue to drive the global economy throughout the 21st century and probably far beyond.

    The rational and pragmatic way of dealing with climate change is to encourage investments in renewables for electricity generation. As their share rises in global electricity generation, a corresponding reduction in the consumption of natural gas, coal and even nuclear energy could be implemented.

    Oil is a different matter altogether. It will continue to dominate the global transport system well into the future. EVs will never prevail over ICEs even in the next 100 years.

    A premature ditching of fossil fuels is a sure way to catastrophe.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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