The United Nations chief urged Japan and other wealthy nations on Thursday to give up their reliance on coal and other fossil fuels and commit to investments in green energy as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the appeal in an address to an online climate conference hosted by Japan.
Guterres noted that many countries are using the opportunity of the pandemic to double down on green energy and other initiatives, aiming to attain a goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial average.
“We are facing two critical crises, COVID and climate change," he said in pre-recorded remarks. He said he hoped the meeting would “leave future generations with the hope that this moment is the true turning point for people and the planet."
A major U.N. Climate Change Conference due to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, this November was postponed due to the pandemic. Dubbed COP26, it is to be held there in early November 2021.
Japan’s Environment Ministry has led an initiative called the Online Platform for Sustainable and Resilient Recovery from COVID-19, or “Platform for Redesign 2020.” Its website says it is a hub that collates countries’ climate and other environmental policies and actions that are planned and implemented in the context of recovery from COVID-19.
Guterres noted that Japan’s advanced technology in many fields should make it a leader in shifting to renewable energy and urged it to stop financing construction of coal-fired power plants.
The top priorities, he said, are prioritizing “green" jobs, ending subsidies for use of fossil fuels and taking energy and climate change issues into account in all decisions.