The future must start today – the energy dialogue underway at the United Nations

moment of truth

Secretary-General António Guterres described today’s event as a “moment of truth”: the last time energy issues were discussed at this high level was 40 years ago. At that time, the attitude to fossil fuels was completely different – countries boasted of growth in its extraction and production. Today, humanity has recognized that this is a path to disaster: emissions associated with the production and use of this energy account for 75 percent of all greenhouse gases that pollute the atmosphere. This in turn exacerbates the climate crisis.

The development of the renewable energy sector creates three times more jobs than energy powered by fuel

This problem has another tragic aspect: today, 760 million people in the world still live without electricity, and 2.6 billion do not have access to clean fuels and cooking technologies. The goal, as UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the opening of the dialogue today, is that everyone can use energy, but the air remains clean and climate change is limited.

He continued, “Humanity already has the tools to accomplish this task, you just have to use them.” In many countries, the cheapest source of energy today is solar photovoltaic systems. The development of the renewable energy sector allows you to create three times more jobs than energy powered by fuel.”

Guterres said that during the pandemic, only the renewable energy sector has shown high growth rates, but even that growth is far from enough. For example, in 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a quarter of health facilities have no electricity, and 90 percent of all people in the world breathe polluted air.

What is offered at the United Nations

The United Nations proposes to reduce the share of hydrocarbons in the next 10 years, and to “decarbonize” the energy industry – without this, it will not be possible to maintain warming within 1.5 ° C, which means that it will not fulfill the main task set forth in the Paris climate agreement and not Achieving sustainable development goals.

“Today we have a historic opportunity,” the UN chief stressed. “I hope that all countries, especially the most polluters, as well as the big players in the business and financial world will benefit from it.”

Priorities

Antonio Guterres spoke about his priorities in the fight for a green future for global energy. First, by 2030, we need to significantly reduce the energy access gap. The UN Secretary-General said this would require “relatively modest” investments: $35 billion a year in measures to provide the population with electricity and $25 billion to expand access to clean fuels and cooking technologies.

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The third item on the list of priorities is financing: to achieve a fundamental change, you need to ensure a continuous flow of investments – and their total size must be tripled to 5 trillion dollars annually. Secondly, according to Guterres, it is necessary to accelerate the transition to carbon-free energy: by 2030, the total volume of energy from renewable sources must be quadrupled.

He is convinced that “after 2021, there should not be a single new coal-fired power plant in the world”. The head of the United Nations believes that countries and investors should not finance the exploration of new deposits of fossil fuels, as well as licensing or building infrastructure to extract them. “This is not rational,” he warned. Clean, renewable energy is a much better investment.”

Fourth, it is very important that the benefits of the Green Revolution be distributed fairly. “No one should be left behind,” Antonio Guterres concluded.

Energy Treaty

The head of the United Nations called on all participants in the dialogue to “act boldly and decisively” and demonstrate their commitment to a common energy future by signing the treaty, which will become a kind of roadmap for the next decade. “We cannot wait another 40 years,” he stressed. “The era of clean and affordable energy for all must begin today.”

Country commitments

The theme of the “green” economy and clean energy was heard in many speeches at the general political debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, including in the form of specific commitments. For example, Kazakhstan is launching a low-carbon national development strategy to 2050 and reducing government spending on carbon power generation; In Moldova, they are expanding forest plantations and developing a “green” and circular economy. Azerbaijan intends to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the total energy system to 30 percent by 2030; Uzbekistan plans to start operating new solar and wind power plants with a total capacity of 2,900 MW by 2025.

Of course, commitments by major countries that are major “polluters” have attracted a lot of attention: US promises to increase climate change financing to 11.4 billion annually, and China not to build new coal-fired power plants abroad. . At the United Nations, this information did not go unnoticed: on the same day, Antonio Guterres issued a statement praising the commitments of Beijing and Washington. The UN is counting on a breakthrough during the High-Level Energy Dialogue and hopes to hear about “bold” new commitments.

Dialog result

As a result of the High-level Dialogue, participants made 150 additional commitments. Among other things, we are talking about investing private and public funds – just $400 billion – in projects to provide electricity and clean cooking fuels for hundreds of millions of people on the planet, as well as a major expansion of renewable energy production.

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