UN Head Calls on Global Funding Agencies to Shun Fossil Fuels

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The head of the United Nations is calling on international lending agencies to stop financing major fossil fuel projects, which he said are no longer economic investments.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in a speech Thursday, also said the Group of Seven nations should make “substantial” climate financing pledges, with some doubling prior commitments.

The event was part of the runup to the UN’s annual climate conference in November, and his comments reflect the increasing push to motivate world leaders to increase their efforts to curb carbon emissions. Restricting financial support for fossil fuels has emerged as a key strategy to limit global development at a time when the world “stands at the edge of the abyss,” he said.

“We can no longer afford big fossil fuel infrastructure anywhere,” Guterres said. “Such investments simply deepen our predicament. They are not even cost-effective.”

The event, known as the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, comes two weeks after President Joe Biden announced plans to double the U.S. target for fighting carbon emissions at a summit for world leaders. Canada and Japan also announced new plans at the U.S.-hosted event that Biden had said was aimed in part to motivate his peers to raise their ambitions before the UN conference in November in Glasgow.

Guterres said multilateral development banks should fund efforts that are aligned with limiting global warming, a strategy that’s incompatible with supporting fossil fuels. He also repeated calls for ending the use of coal for power production worldwide by 2040 and for putting a price on carbon.

“We have a small and narrow window of opportunity to do the right thing,” he said.

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