The invasion of Ukraine has seen rapid rises in the prices of coal, oil and gas as countries scramble to replace Russian sources.
UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has warned that these short-term measures might ‘close the window’ on the Paris climate goals. In his first major speech on climate and energy since COP26, he says that the limited progress achieved in Glasgow is not enough to ward off the devastating effects of climate change. The war Russia has pledged on Ukraine threatens to make this worse.
Scientists have said that keeping the rise in global temperatures under 1.5 degrees Celsius this century is crucial to limiting the scale of damage from global warming.
Mr Guterres noted that to keep this threshold alive, the carbon output needs to be cut in half by the end of this decade. However, it is set to rise by 14% as Europe and the UK look to cut their reliance on Russian oil and gas this year – turning to alternatives like coal instead. Guterres has warned that this is dangerous for the climate: ‘Countries could be so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap policies to cut fossil fuel use’
He goes on to say that solutions to climate crisis are in the hands of the G20 group of the richest nations, which produce around 80% of global emissions. Coal must be banished in richer nations, including China, by 2020 to 2040.
The best way forward is to build coalitions to help major emerging economies to move rapidly away from fossil fuels. Guterres highlights South Africa as an example of the coalition. During COP26, several countries including the UK, the US and more agreed to an $8.5bn financing programme to end South Africa’s reliance on coal. He says this is slowly coming together for other countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam.
Antonio Guterres has called for finance help to assist countries to adapt to rising temperatures. In 2022, he insists that richer countries must make good on their promise to provide $100bn a year to the developing world.
Written by Chanel Enow