In a candid interview with AFP, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized the critical need for the COP28 climate conference to set a bold agenda: the total “phaseout” of fossil fuels. Guterres warned of an impending “total disaster” if the current trajectory continues, urging for decisive action to combat climate change.
Key Points from Guterres:
- Call for Fossil Fuel Phaseout: Guterres stressed the importance of incorporating language that explicitly calls for a complete phaseout of fossil fuels in the COP28 final statement. He acknowledged the challenges but advocated for a commitment beyond a vague “phase-down.”
- Ambitious Targets: With nations falling short of the Paris Agreement’s ambitious goals, Guterres called for a commitment aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. He emphasized the necessity for a credible time framework to achieve this objective.
- Special Responsibility of COP28 President: Addressing concerns about COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber’s ties to the oil industry, Guterres noted his “special responsibility” to influence the fossil fuel sector. He highlighted Al Jaber’s unique position to advocate for the phaseout of fossil fuels.
- Renewable Energy Development: Guterres called for a threefold increase in global renewable energy and expressed the need for a “massive” global investment program in Africa, a continent rich in solar capacity but lacking proportional investment.
- Climate Justice and Losses Compensation: The UN chief emphasized the importance of addressing climate justice issues and compensating vulnerable countries for losses and damages. He called for meaningful contributions to boost the fund created during COP27.
- 1.5 Degree Goal: Despite challenges, Guterres expressed confidence in achieving the 1.5-degree goal with available technologies and funding. He underscored the role of political will in redirecting efforts towards the right direction.
As the world faces the threat of rising temperatures, Guterres urged COP28 to be a pivotal moment, steering the global community away from the current unsustainable path and towards a future of climate resilience.