UN Secretary-General Calls Fossil Fuel Investment "Delusional"

UN Secretary-General Calls Fossil Fuel Investment "Delusional"

Following the rise in fuel prices driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, countries around the world have worked to break their reliance on Russian energy supply by boosting the short-term supplies of oil and gas. But as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently stated, this is not a sustainable, long-term solution to the current energy supply crisis. In a speech at the Austrian World Summit, Guterres called fossil fuel exploration and production "delusional,” and urged the world’s major economies instead to fund the "peace plan of the 21st century,” -- renewable energy.

EuroNews: UN Secretary-General says the climate crisis is placing half of humanity in 'the danger zone,' June 14, 2022.

While the fossil fuel market is projected to experience increasing volatility, projections for the renewables market include increased growth, security, and profitability. "The war has reinforced an abject lesson: our energy mix is broken,” Guterres stated. "Had we invested massively in renewable energy in the past, we should not be so dramatically at the mercy of the instability of fossil fuel markets now.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Arnold Schwarzenegger's Speaks to the 6th Annual Austrian World Summit, June 14, 2022.

Why This Matters

Indeed, the world cannot afford to increase fossil fuel energy consumption. Currently, atmospheric carbon levels are at a 4-million-year high. The International Energy Agency (IEA) asserts that reaching net-zero by 2050 will require a full cessation of both operational and future oil, gas, and coal development along with a threefold increase in renewable energy investment by 2030. Wealthy, high emitting countries must lead the charge.

IEA: A 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use, March 18, 2022.

Time to Disarm the 'Carbon Bombs'

Presently, however, the world’s wealthiest countries are the biggest offenders -- from Canada to Germany to Great Britain to the US, increases in fossil fuel production are already underway. For the longer term, the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies are working to initiate 195 new oil and gas projects, which if completed, will act as "carbon bombs,” driving warming far beyond the 1.5-degree limit.

Though increasing fossil fuel production may seem a quick fix in the face of rising fuel prices, economic viability is not guaranteed in the long-term -- one recent study found that nearly $1.4 trillion in oil and gas investments are likely to become stranded as a result of future climate policy and economic devaluation.

Reuters: World could see 1.5C of warming in next five years, May 10, 2022.

Democracy Now: Bill McKibben | Latest IPCC Climate Report Underscores "Fossil Fuel Is at the Root of Our Problems," April 7, 2022.

60 Minutes Australia: Can renewable energy turn Australia into a global superpower?, May 1, 2022.