UN Chief Calls for End to Coal Investment, Seeks Climate Pledges

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging more countries to stop investing in coal, while pushing for developed countries to take concrete climate action.

For net-zero pledges to be backed by credible targets and timelines, subsidies have to be shifted from fossil fuels to renewables, and “it also means stopping the financing of coal domestically and abroad and phasing out its use,” Guterres said in a video message at the International Finance Forum in Beijing on Saturday.

UN Chief Calls for End to Coal Investment, Seeks Climate Pledges

Citing South Korea’s recent decision to halt state-backed financing of coal-fired power plants overseas, the UN chief said he’s counting on “G7 climate ministers and other leaders to make similar commitments.”

Coal consumption is expected to rise this year among the top three users. U.S. power plants are projected to consume 16% more coal, and China is seen burning a record amount of the fuel, although President Xi Jinping wants the country to start reducing coal use from 2026.

Guterres also reiterated that developed countries must meet the $100 billion goal in aid and new climate commitments, including for the period of 2021-2025. At least 50% of climate finance should be for “adaptation and resilience,” he said. His speech comes ahead of the highly-anticipated COP26 meeting in November, where officials from 197 countries gather to solve climate issues. This year, signatory countries are expected to update their initial pledges to help achieve the Paris Agreement goals.

Speaking on the virus pandemic, Guterres said that the global vaccine gap must be closed urgently.

“We must unite to produce and distribute sufficient vaccines for all, especially to reach low-income countries that are falling behind,” he said. “Covax, the global vaccine equity mechanism, can help achieve this.”

More must also be done to support developing countries on the brink of a debt crisis, Guterres said, adding he has called for a further extension to the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative into 2022 for all countries in need, including middle-income nations.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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