The United Nations’ (UN) chief has said that coal has no place in COVID-19 recovery plans, urging sovereign nations to put a halt to coal incentives and increase sustainable development as they move into the future.
The United Nations’ Secretary General, Antonio Guterres has told an online summit hosted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that a more sustainable future translates to a more profitable future for those that can implement sustainable development goals.
“Coal has no place in COVID-19 recovery plans,” he said, targeting governments that are still providing incentives for fossil fuel giants to operate.
“Some countries have used stimulus plans to prop up oil and gas companies that were already struggling financially. Others have chosen to jumpstart coal-fired power plants that don’t make financial or environmental sense,” Guterres added.
The UN Secretary General also cited research indicating that a number of G20 nations were funnelling more money in their recovery plans to fossil fuel sectors than renewable energy sectors, and warned of the potential damage of ignoring sustainable development while recovering their economies.
Guterres said that “trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into recovery strategies” were at risk of becoming bad investments if they ignore environmental concerns and renewable energy generation.
“We can invest in fossil fuels whose markets are volatile and whose emissions lead to lethal air pollution, or we can invest in renewable energy which is reliable, clean and economically smart,” he said.
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The summit was attended by representatives of 40 countries around the world that accounted for more than 80% of global energy use, and electricity generation emissions.
The Secretary General also cited examples of Canada, Nigeria and South Korea implementing recovery plans that were based in sustainable development and renewable energy generation.
A report from CNN Business says that “Zhang Jinhua, director of China’s National Energy Administration, said the country, which accounts for more than 50% of global coal use today, is committed to developing its clean energy sector.”
Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency said he was “heartened” by Jinhua’s intention to transition China’s energy sector to renewable energy, adding that “there is global momentum to build a sustainable economic recovery process and momentum for clean energy transition.”
Birol added that the summit was viewed by more than half a million people around the world, signifying the growing desire to transition to a clean-energy based economy with sustainable development goals.