U.N. secretary general asks countries to ease barriers to green energy

by Reuters
Wednesday, 18 May 2022 08:00 GMT

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a news conference with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer (not seen) and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (not seen) in Vienna, Austria May 11, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner

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Antonio Guterres' plea comes as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its annual report, which found that four key climate change indicators – greenhouse gas concentrations, sea-level rise, ocean heat and acidification – set new records in 2021.

WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) - The U.N. secretary-general on Wednesday called for a global coalition to speed the deployment of battery technology, urging countries to ease intellectual property constraints to hasten the transition from fossil fuels and combat climate change.

Antonio Guterres' plea comes as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its annual report, which found that four key climate change indicators – greenhouse gas concentrations, sea-level rise, ocean heat and acidification – set new records in 2021.

In video remarks released alongside the WMO State of the Climate, the top U.N. official called the report "a dismal litany of humanity's failure to tackle climate disruption" and laid out five actions that governments need to take to "jumpstart" the energy transition.

"The global energy system is broken and bringing us ever closer to climate catastrophe," Guterres said, adding that while the cost of renewable technologies like wind energy and solar power have dropped significantly, major barriers inhibit widespread deployment.

Guterres called on countries, manufacturers, technology firms and financiers need to join forces to fast track the deployment of batteries, which he said was a common good and should not be held back by intellectual property constraints.

He called for international coordination to scale up and diversify supply chains for renewable energy technology and raw materials, which are concentrated in a handful of countries.

The top U.N. diplomat also urged countries to speed up the permitting process for renewable energy projects - similar to a recent proposal by the EU, and renewed his calls for governments to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

In order to give the world's developing nations more access to renewable energy to power their growing populations, Guterres also called for private and development banks to triple investments in renewables to $4 trillion an year and help poor countries with upfront costs associated with wind and solar power.

"Commercial banks and all elements of the global financial system need to dramatically scale up investments in renewables as they phase out fossil fuels," he said.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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