Thu. Oct 5th, 2023
    “Planet Wreckers”: UN Secretary General Calls out Fossil Fuel Producers

    United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, has taken a strong stance against fossil fuel producers, describing them as “planet wreckers.” Guterres has been pushing governments to stop funding coal and to halt new oil and gas projects, emphasizing the urgent need to address climate change. However, he has not explicitly named the countries engaging in these destructive practices.

    Guterres’ inability to directly call out specific countries demonstrates the limitations of the diplomatic playbook when it comes to global warming. The multilateral approach to addressing climate change has resulted in watered-down agreements, as every country must agree on every word and comma. This hinders the speed and effectiveness of responses to the climate crisis.

    Despite Guterres’ exhortations, governments have actually increased their fossil fuel subsidies, reaching a record $7 trillion in 2022. Many nations still heavily depend on coal, oil, and gas for their revenues, and few have concrete plans to transition away from fossil fuels. As a result, the devastating impacts of climate change continue to mount.

    Guterres, recognizing the limitations of his role, is deploying a diplomatic strategy during the United Nations General Assembly meeting this week. He is hosting a Climate Ambition Summit that only allows high-level leaders from countries that have taken substantial climate action to speak. This approach serves as a “naming and shaming” device without specifically singling out any country.

    The list of speakers at the summit has been closely guarded, leading to intense diplomatic negotiations. Government representatives have been asked to provide evidence of their efforts to phase out coal, their climate funding commitments, or whether they are still issuing new oil and gas permits. The final list includes only a handful of countries and companies with credible climate targets.

    Guterres’ vocal stance on climate change is a significant shift from his earlier focus on other global issues when he assumed the position of United Nations Secretary General. However, as climate change becomes increasingly urgent, he has embraced the role of a truth-teller, advocating for accountability and action.

    Overall, Guterres’ determination to hold governments and fossil fuel companies accountable for their actions is commendable. However, the limitations of his position and the diplomatic challenges in addressing climate change make it difficult to achieve the necessary swift and effective responses.


    – Source article: The New York Times