With fossil fuel subsidies, humanity investing in 'own doom': UN chief

December 12, 2017
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during the One Planet Summit on December 12, 2017 at La Seine Musicale
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during the One Planet Summit on December 12, 2017 at La Seine Musicale venue in Boulogne-Billancourt, southwest of Paris

By subsidising fossil fuels, humanity was "investing in its own doom", UN chief Antonio Guterres said Tuesday at a Paris summit seeking to unlock funds for the global shift towards greener energy.

"Fossil fuels remain heavily subsidised -– meaning we are investing in our own doom," he told delegates at the finance-themed climate gathering called by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Guterres described as the "defining challenge of our times," and warned that humanity was losing the war "for the very existence of life on our planet as we know it".

Macron called the gathering of world leaders to assess the shortfall of money needed to lift the global economy out of its reliance on atmosphere-polluting coal, oil and natural gas.

The International Energy Agency estimates that investments of some $3.5 trillion (3 trillion euros) per year in the energy sector are needed until 2050 to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of limiting average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

This is double current spending.

Guterres called for investment "in the future, not the past".

"We need policy makers and central banks, stock exchanges, pension funds, rating agencies and all financial actors to align investments with the needs of climate action and sustainable development," he said.

Money is a sore point in the UN climate process, with developing nations demanding aid to ease the costly shift to less-polluting energy sources, and to shore up defences against climate-change induced weather disasters.

Rich nations, who have polluted more for longer, pledged in 2009 to muster $100 billion per year in climate funds from 2020.

On 2015 trends, total public financing would reach about $67 billion by that date, according to a report of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Matters have been further complicated by US President Donald Trump's announcement in June that he would pull America out of the 2015 Paris pact, and slash US funding.

Climate change, said Guterres, was moving faster than humanity's decarbonisation efforts. Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are at record levels, and emissions increased in 2017 for the first time in three years.

"Finance could be, should be and will be the decisive factor—the difference between winning and losing the war," he said, adding the global financial system was "awash" with funds.

This money, he said, must be made to work "not only for profit but for the future of people and the planet", requiring a joint effort of governments and the private sector.

Explore further: Leaders join France's Macron to discuss climate cash crunch

Related Stories

What is the Paris Agreement?

November 17, 2017

On December 12, 2015, 195 countries gathered in the French capital to conclude the first truly universal climate treaty, the Paris Agreement, aimed at preventing worst-case-scenario global warming.

Recommended for you

Gauging the effects of water scarcity on an irrigated planet

April 20, 2018

Growing global food demand, climate change, and climate policies favoring bioenergy production are expected to increase pressures on water resources around the world. Many analysts predict that water shortages will constrain ...

6 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rodkeh
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 12, 2017
An endless parade of scientifically illiterate, nitwit politicians, Hell bent for destruction, doing the exact opposite of what they should do and want to do but they are too ignorant of the basics of science to know when they are being lead down the garden path and swindled.

CO2 is the GREATEST blessing this planet could receive and we owe our present well-being to past fossil fuel fueled, CO2 production. We owe the oil industry a debt of gratitude and we need to find more and better sources of CO2 to boost the ecosystem so we can accommodate the coming population boom.

Investing in fossil fuels is investing in the health and welfare of our planets ecosystem and consequently, everything else!

There are no such thing as GHGs, the real science proved it, so AGW is an ill-conceived Lie and a fraud, perpetrated against all of us.
TrollBane
not rated yet Dec 14, 2017
The first comment is, predictably, baseless spewing of long-debunked talking points designed to manufacture doubt for self-serving (in the short term) purposes.
TrollBane
not rated yet Dec 14, 2017
That talking point is almost old enough to not be interesting to the former candidate Mr. Moore.
rodkeh
1 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2017
That talking point is almost old enough to not be interesting to the former candidate Mr. Moore.

Nothing of any value to add I see.
TrollBane
not rated yet Dec 15, 2017
"Nothing of any value to add I see."
Like your oh so insightful comment on another article: "Only the gullible and uneducated are fucked, the rest of us will be just fine!" or another where you claim "Since AGW has been proved to be a lie, this must mean the brainwashing is working."?
rodkeh
not rated yet Dec 17, 2017
Thank you! I appreciate the support!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.