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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the World Climate Action Summit. Image Credit: via REUTERS

Dubai: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged world leaders at the COP28 climate summit to plan for a future without fossil fuels, saying there was no other way to curb global warming.

“The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce. Not abate. Phase-out — with a clear time frame aligned with 1.5 degrees. We cannot save a burning planet with a fire hose of fossil fuels,” Guterres told world leaders on Friday.

“The Global Stocktake must not only commit to that — it must also commit to triple renewables, double energy efficiency, and bring clean energy to all by 2030. The economics are clear: the global shift to renewables is inevitable,” he said.

Painting a worrisome picture of ongoing climate chaos, the UN chief said global heating is busting budgets, ballooning food prices, upending energy markets, and feeding a cost-of-living crisis.

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Vital signs

“Earth’s vital signs are failing: record emissions, ferocious fires, deadly droughts and the hottest year ever. We are miles from the goals of the Paris Agreement — and minutes to midnight for the 1.5-degree limit,” said the UN Chief, adding that it is not too late. “You can prevent planetary crash and burn,” he said.

“The only question is how much heating our planet will endure before it happens,” Guterres added. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recommended ending the “addiction” to coal by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 for the rest of the world.

Gas industry

“At the same time, according to the International Energy Agency, the oil and gas industry accounts for just one per cent of clean energy investment,” he stated.

“So, I have a message for fossil fuel company leaders: Your old road is rapidly ageing. Do not double down on an obsolete business model. Lead the transition to renewables,” said the UN Chief.

Guterres also welcomed the breakthrough achieved Thursday on the opening day of COP28 after delegates reached a deal on the operationalization of a fund for loss and damage to help the world’s most vulnerable countries pay for the devastating impacts of climate disaster.