Aug. 28 (UPI) — United Nations Secretary-general Antonio Guterres called on India Friday to stop using coal as a source of affordable energy, saying it must end the fossil fuel if it truly wants to be a global superpower.
Guterres made his comments virtually during the annual Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture.
The U.N. chief said India needs to cease building any new coal-fired plants after 2020 and begin phasing it out altogether. He said India is in an ideal position to profit economically and fight climate change.
“Investments in renewable energy, clean transport and energy efficiency during the recovery from the [COVID-19] pandemic could extend electricity access to 270 million people worldwide — fully a third of the people that currently lack it,” Guterres said.
“These same investments could help create 9 million jobs annually over the next three years. Investments in renewable energy generate three times more jobs than investments in polluting fossil fuels.”
Guterres added that nations like Britain, South Korea and Germany, plus the European Union, have all increased the pace of removing carbon emissions from their economies.
“They are shifting from unsustainable fossil fuels to clean and efficient renewables, and investing in energy storage solutions, such as green hydrogen,” he said. “And it is not just developed economies stepping up. Many in the developing world are leading by example — countries such as Nigeria, which has recently reformed its fossil fuel subsidy framework.”
Navroz Dubash, a professor at the Center for Policy Research, said a departure from coal in one of the largest nations on Earth would be difficult.
“Instead of more targets and pledges, India needs to actively plan to hasten and smoothen the path from coal to renewable energy,” Dubash said. “This means planning for new livelihood opportunities in coal mining areas to ensure a just transition, ensuring the robustness of the grid, and making sure the costs of transition are not borne by poor consumers.”