United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stated on the first International Day of Clean Energy that phasing out fossil fuels is not only necessary but also inevitable.
In his speech, Guterres pressed governments, especially major emitters, to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower.
He touted the benefits of clean energy, saying it can reduce air pollution, meet rising energy demands, improve energy security, and help bring electricity to the nearly 770 million people currently without access—all while combating climate change.
Guterres argued that, with the right policies, clean energy can spur sustainable development and economic growth. He called for a surge in climate financing to help developing nations transition, for countries to map out transition plans by 2025, and for governments to “close the door on the fossil fuel era with justice and equity.”
The clean energy transition is “unstoppable.”
Guterres stated confidently that the global shift to clean energy is “unstoppable,” but said governments must accelerate the transition to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Over 180 countries have already set renewable energy targets.
This transition, Guterres explained, means phasing out coal, oil, and natural gas, which account for nearly 90% of current carbon dioxide emissions globally.
OPEC Pushes Back
However, some major players continue to resist calls to phase out fossil fuels. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) projects oil demand will hit 116 million barrels per day by 2045.
OPEC Secretary-General Haitham Al Ghais contends oil remains vital amid the shift towards renewables. He argues that calls to halt new oil investments are “misguided” and could cause “energy chaos.”
This clashes with the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) stance that renewable energy must replace fossil fuels to curb emissions. Al Ghais counters that this transition cannot happen overnight.
The energy world order is shifting.
Nonetheless, momentum towards renewable energy continues to build. Renewables are expected to account for over 90% of new power generation in 2022, per the IEA. Many experts argue the “new energy world order” is already emerging.
With the UN’s declaration of the International Day of Clean Energy, it’s clear the tide is turning away from fossil fuels. While resistance remains, Secretary-General Guterres and clean energy advocates are confident that the future is renewable.