UN chief: Don’t let Russia crisis fuel climate destruction

Mar 21, 2022, 2:32 AM | Updated: 4:29 pm
Long time exposure photo shows cars and trucks driving on a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, early Mo...

Long time exposure photo shows cars and trucks driving on a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, early Monday, March 21, 2022. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says countries scrambling to replace Russian oil, gas and coal supplies with any available alternative may fuel the world’s “mutually assured destruction” through climate change. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

BERLIN (AP) — Countries scrambling to replace Russian oil, gas and coal supplies with any available alternative may fuel the world’s “mutually assured destruction” through climate change, the head of the United Nations warned Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy now being pursued by major economies to end fossil fuel imports from Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine could kill hopes of keeping global warming below dangerous levels.

“Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap policies to cut fossil fuel use,” he said by video at an event organized by the Economist weekly. “This is madness. Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.”

Germany, one of Russia’s biggest energy customers, wants to increase its supply of oil from the Gulf and speed up the building of terminals to receive liquefied natural gas.

In the United States, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki earlier this month said the war in Ukraine was a reason for American oil and gas producers to “go get more supply out of the ground in our own country.”

Guterres said that “instead of hitting the brakes on the decarbonization of the global economy, now is the time to put the pedal to the metal towards a renewable energy future.”

His comments came as scientists on the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change began a two-week meeting to finalize their latest report about the world’s efforts to curb emissions of planet-heating greenhouse gases.

A separate report, released last month, found half of humanity is already at serious risk from climate change and this will increase with each tenth of a degree of warming.

Guterres said the Paris climate accord’s goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) was “on life support” because countries aren’t doing enough to drive down emissions.

With temperatures already about 1.2C higher now than before industrialization, keeping the Paris target alive requires a 45% cut in global emissions by 2030, he said.

But after a pandemic-related dip in 2020, emissions rose again sharply last year.

“If we continue with more of the same, we can kiss 1.5 goodbye,” he said. “Even 2 degrees may be out of reach. And that would be catastrophe.”

Guterres urged the world’s biggest developed and emerging economies to make meaningful emissions cuts, including by swiftly ending their dependence on coal — the most polluting fossil fuel — and holding private companies that continue to support its use to account.

Hundreds of scientist in Britain and the United States published an open letter Monday calling on academic institutions to stop accepting funding from fossil fuel companies for research into climate change.

Speaking at the opening of the IPCC meeting Monday, the head of the U.N. climate office urged governments to take immediate action so that targets for 2030 — such as the European Union’s goal to reduce emissions by 55% compared with 1990 levels — can be met.

“Long-term plans are important and they are needed,” said Patricia Espinosa. “But if global leaders, public and private, do not make progress and establish clear plans for climate action in the next two years, plans for 2050 may well be irrelevant.”

The IPCC report due to be published on April 4 isn’t expected to include direct references to the impacts of the war in Ukraine, said Jim Skea, who co-chairs the expert panel that wrote it.

“Our strength lies in incrementally building up scientific information over a period of time and getting it bought into by governments as well as scientists,” he said. “And you can’t do that at the same time as turning on a sixpence to address current affairs.”

However, it will outline how various energy policies would affect emissions trends in future. These include plans for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere again.

“That’s a much bigger emphasis from previously,” said Skea.


Follow AP’s coverage of climate change at https://apnews.com/hub/climate

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - A fuel trucks drives along a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, Jan. 27, 2023. European Union go...
Associated Press

Europe bans Russian diesel, other oil products over Ukraine

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Europe imposed a ban Sunday on Russian diesel fuel and other refined oil products, slashing energy dependency on Moscow and seeking to further crimp the Kremlin’s fossil fuel earnings as punishment for invading Ukraine. The ban comes along with a price cap agreed by the Group of Seven allied democracies. The […]
8 hours ago
FILE - Outgoing British Prime Minister Liz Truss speaks outside Downing Street in London, on Oct. 2...
Associated Press

It wasn’t me: Ex-UK PM Truss blames ‘system’ for her failure

LONDON (AP) — Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss says her failure wasn’t her fault. Truss on Sunday blamed a “powerful economic establishment” and internal Conservative Party opposition for the rapid collapse of her government, and said she still believes her tax-cutting policies were the right ones. Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister resigned in October, six […]
8 hours ago
Two men share a meal in a makeshift tent camp outside the Petit Chateau reception center in Brussel...
Associated Press

EU migration impasse leaves many refugees out in the cold

BRUSSELS (AP) — Some refugees and asylum-seekers in Brussels have been spending months in between the Street of Palaces and the Small Castle — quite literally. Unfortunately, it’s not a dream come true at the end of their fearful flight from halfway across the globe. It’s a perpetual nightmare. Petit Chateau, which means small castle, […]
8 hours ago
Items are displayed in the "Boutique" at the Insight Women's Center, where clients can find clothes...
Associated Press

US states take control of abortion debate with funding focus

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Though the Insight Women’s Center sits at the epicenter of a reinvigorated battle in the nation’s culture wars, the only hint of its faith-based mission to dissuade people from getting abortions is the jazzy, piano rendition of “Jesus Loves Me” playing in a waiting room. The Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature is considering […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

India’s G-20 energy meet to balance renewables, fossil fuels

BENGALURU, India (AP) — Over 500 energy industry heavyweights and 30,000 participants will descend on the southern Indian city of Bengaluru on Monday to discuss the future of renewables and fossil fuels at India Energy Week — the first big ticket event of the country’s presidency of the Group of 20 leading economies. Speakers, including […]
1 day ago
FILE - Mega Millions lottery tickets and a wager slip are displayed, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Derry...
Arizona Sports

Drawing nears for $700M Powerball prize, 10th biggest in US

Another huge lottery jackpot will be on the line Saturday for players willing to put up $2 vs. daunting odds of actually winning the prize.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
UN chief: Don’t let Russia crisis fuel climate destruction