Developed and emerging economies must focus on the environment, says Secretary-General António Guterres

On Thursday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres again called on the world’s advanced economies to phase out coal infrastructure, citing environmental concerns.

“Today I am calling on the governments of the G20 countries to dismantle the coal infrastructure, abandoning it entirely by 2030 in OECD countries and by 2040 everywhere else.” Guterres said, while speaking at the Stockholm+50 conference.

He also called on all financial institutions to move away from fossil fuel financing and invest in renewable energy.

According to the UN chief, the Earth’s natural systems are not capable of withstanding the demands of humanity.

“We are consuming [resources] at a rate of 1.7 planets per year. If global consumption were at the level of the richest countries in the world, we would need more than three planet Earths”, Guterres said.

The issue of coal power has divided the G20 between countries that are ready to phase out fossil fuels and those that defend them. In 2021, leaders agreed to end international public financing of new coal power by the end of the year, but failed to agree on phasing out coal power or ceasing production from new coal plants.

In some G20 countries, such as the US, China and India, coal is still the largest source of energy. Despite earlier promises to begin phasing out coal consumption and achieving net-zero emissions soon, the two nations have lately returned to the coal-fueled fire as concerns about global energy security intensify.

Some European countries, including Poland and Germany, may also increase coal-fired generation as they move away from Russian gas.

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