Highlighting India’s growing solar capacity, UN chief Antonio Guterres has said the world is moving towards a green economy at a time when “unprecedented” climate change is posing a threat to development.
“Around the world, over half of new power generation capacity now comes from renewables. In Europe, the figure is more than 90 per cent. In the US and China, new renewable energy jobs now outstrip those created in the oil and gas industries. Globally, over 8 million people work in the renewables sector,” UN Seretary General Guterres said.
He was addressing a UN General Assembly High-Level action event yesterday aimed at invigorating political momentum on climate change, highlighting its deep links to the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
“This year, Saudi Arabia announced plans to install 700 megawatts of solar and wind power. And industry experts predict India’s solar capacity will double in 2017 to 18 gigawatts. So the trend is clear, the world is moving towards a green economy. Governments and business increasingly understand that there is no trade-off between a healthy environment and a healthy economy,” he said.
Guterres said the climate change was an unprecedented and growing threat to peace, prosperity and development and addressing it presents an economic opportunity for governments and business.
“We are dealing with scientific facts, not politics. And the facts are clear. Climate change is a direct threat in itself, and a multiplier of many other threats,” he added.
“First, climate change is an unprecedented and growing threat – to peace and prosperity and the same in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals. Second, addressing climate change is a massive opportunity that we cannot afford to miss,” he said.
The Paris Agreement on climate change adopted in December 2015 is unique in its universality, with every single government having signed it. The pact entered force in less than a year and to date more than 130 parties have ratified it, he said.
Guterres stressed the countries that supported the Paris Agreement are the same that adopted the 2030 Agenda, comprising all UN Member States.
“The reason for this consensus is clear: all nations recognise that implementing the 2030 Agenda goes hand-in-glove with limiting global temperature rise and increasing climate resilience,” he said.
Guterres said 2016 was the hottest on record and sea ice is at a historic low and sea levels at a historic high.
These trends are indisputable, he said, explaining that consequences of climate change include food insecurity, water scarcity, poverty and displacement.
Tackling climate change is a tremendous opportunity for governments and business as there is no trade-off between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.
“We can have both. Green business is good business. Climate action is a necessity and can advance the attainment of sustainable development goals,” he said.
“How we go about it can be the subject of scientific and political debate. But there is no question that we must act, urgently and decisively, now. And it remains the only viable way to safeguard peace, prosperity and a sustainable future,” Guterres said.