Stop building coal plants now: UN chief

The world should stop building new coal-fired power plants and phase out existing ones, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In a special address During the forum, António Guterres said that “the first priority must be a targeted phase-out of coal. No new coal-fired power plants should be built.

The call followed a description of extreme weather events, “skyrocketing prices” and climate-related disasters over the past 20 years which Guterres said had increased by 82%, with extreme weather in 2021 causing damage alone worth 120 billion dollars and leading to the death of 10,000 people.

However, António Guterres’ speech focused on just transition, an issue that is gaining more and more attention as it becomes clear that not all economies have the resources to move at the same pace towards a future more focused on renewable energies.

“The past two years have demonstrated a simple but stark truth – if we leave someone behind, we leave everyone behind,” Guterres said, adding that “if we fail to match climate rhetoric with climate action , we condemn ourselves to a warmer and more unstable earth, with worsening disasters and mass displacement.

UN chief notes challenge of Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree scenario, saying even if all countries with climate commitments did their part, emissions would still be higher than they should be be, calling for more action in this regard, starting with phasing out coal.

This is not the first time that the UN chief called for the end of coal. Speaking to the Powering Past Coal Alliance last year, António Guterres said, “Once upon a time, coal brought cheap electricity to entire regions and vital jobs to communities. Those days are over. Phasing out coal from the electricity sector is the most important step in meeting the 1.5 degree target. »

By Irina Slav for

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Jennifer C. Burleigh