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Stop Building Coal Plants Now: UN Chief

The world should stop building new coal plants and phase out those already in existence, the secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In a special address at the forum, Guterres said that “The first priority must be a targeted phase-out of coal. No new coal plants should be built.”

The call followed a description of extreme weather events, “soaring price tags”, and climate-related disasters from the past 20 years that Guterres said had increased by 82 percent, with extreme weather in 2021 alone causing damages worth $120 billion and resulting in the death of 10,000 people.

The focus of Guterres’ speech, however, was on the just transition—an issue that has been garnering increasing attention as it becomes clear that not all economies have the resources to move at the same pace towards a more renewable energy future.

 “The last two years have demonstrated a simple but brutal truth — if we leave anyone behind, we leave everyone behind,” Guterres said, going on to say that “if we fail to match climate rhetoric with climate actions, we condemn ourselves to a hotter, more volatile earth, with worsening disasters and mass displacement.”

The UN chief notes the challenge of the 1.5-degree scenario from the Paris Agreement, saying that even if all countries with climate commitments did their part, emissions would still be higher than they should be, urging more action to be taken in this respect, beginning with the coal phase out.

This is not the first time the chief of the United Nations has called for the end of coal. Last year, at an address to the Powering Past Coal Alliance, Guterres said, “Once upon a time, coal brought cheap electricity to entire regions and vital jobs to communities. Those days are gone. Phasing out coal from the electricity sector is the single most important step to get in line with the 1.5 degree goal.” 

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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