In a bold statement marking the first International Day of Clean Energy, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres declared the phasing out of fossil fuels not only necessary but also inevitable.
This strong stance underscores the growing global urgency to combat climate change and transition to a cleaner energy future.
Guterres emphasized the critical role clean energy plays in addressing numerous challenges.
From purifying polluted air to ensuring energy access for billions and driving sustainable development, he described it as “the gift that keeps giving.”
“A fair, just, equitable, and urgent transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy is essential to avoid the worst of climate chaos and spur sustainable development.
“So, I celebrate this first International Day of Clean Energy; I applaud the work of the International Renewable Energy Agency. And I welcome the call made by countries at COP28 to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030.
“It is my firm belief that fossil fuel phase-out is not only necessary, it is inevitable. But we need governments to act, to accelerate the transition, with the biggest emitters leading the way,” he disclosed.
Guterres said this means “unleashing a surge in climate finance, particularly, governments reforming the business model of multilateral development banks so that affordable finance flows”.
He added, “It means countries creating new national climate plans by 2025 that map a fair and just transition to clean power. And it means governments closing the door on the fossil fuel era – with justice and equity.
“Our clean energy future is unstoppable. Together, let’s bring it into being faster.”
He further commended the commitment made at COP28 (the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030, calling it a significant step in the right direction.
However, the secretary-general stressed the need for concrete action beyond pledges.
He urged governments, particularly major emitters, to act swiftly and decisively in accelerating the transition.
While Guterres’ call for action received widespread support from environmental groups and clean energy advocates, some within the fossil fuel industry and fossil fuel-dependent countries expressed concerns about the economic and social ramifications of a rapid transition.
They argue that fossil fuels remain crucial for economic growth and development, and that phasing them out too quickly could lead to job losses and energy shortages.
However, proponents of clean energy counter that the economic costs of inaction on climate change far outweigh the challenges of transitioning to a low-carbon economy. They point to the devastating impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events, sea level rise, and mass displacement, which are already costing billions of dollars and displacing millions of people worldwide.