India urged to lead global push for clean energy, climate action
Delivering the 19th Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture, the UN chief called on India to take the lead in transforming global economic, energy and health systems to save lives, create inclusive economies and avert the threat of climate change.
“India can become a true global superpower in the fight against climate change, if it speeds up its shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy,” he stated.
With the pandemic putting sustainable development at risk, exposing vulnerabilities that will worsen with climate change, the Secretary-General outlined how switching to clean energy could benefit millions worldwide, states the UN press report reproduce by Energía Limpia XXI. “Investments in renewable energy, clean transport and energy efficiency during the recovery from the pandemic could extend electricity access to 270 million people worldwide – fully a third of the people that currently lack it,” he said.
urthermore, “these same investments could help create nine million jobs annually over the next three years”, he added.
End fossil fuel subsidies
Mr. Guterres highlighted India’s progress in the renewable energy sector.
The number of workers has risen five-fold since 2015, while last year, spending on solar energy eclipsed coal-fired power generation for the first time.
Despite significant challenges, the South Asian giant has embraced the technology that will power a sustainable future, and is a pioneer in areas such as clean cooking.
However, the UN chief noted that subsidies for fossil fuels, such as coal, are still roughly seven times higher than subsidies for clean energy. The situation is the same in many other parts of the world, something he found “deeply troubling”.
“I have asked all G20 countries, including India, to invest in a clean, green transition as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “This means ending fossil fuel subsidies, placing a price on carbon pollution and committing to no new coal power plants after 2020.”
‘Up in smoke’
Fossil fuels, including coal emissions, create pollution that has severely damaged human health.
Mr. Guterres said eliminating them would result in a rise in life expectancy by 20 months, and prevent some 5.5 million deaths annually worldwide.
Unlike renewable energy, investing in fossil fuels is “bad economics”, he continued, which explains why the world’s largest investors are abandoning coal.
“They see the writing on the wall,” he said. “The coal business is going up in smoke.”