By Sherrica Thompson
November 17, 2022 – The Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Climate Change, Selwin Hart, advises that fossil fuels must be phased out as soon as possible so that countries can meet the Paris Agreement goals and prevent the worst effects of the climate crisis.
“There is no argument about science at all. But of course developing countries, especially the poorest, will need support to make the transition to a renewable energy future,” the Barbadian and former negotiator for UN climate change conferences (COPs) told UN News on Friday, April 11. November.
Hart said the focus should be on helping developing countries remove the barriers they face to accelerate their transition to renewable energy.
“For example, the cost of capital. Investing in renewable energy is by its very nature very capital intensive. Eighty percent of the investment has to be made up front as you have to buy the solar panels and battery storage Installation, and that’s expensive,” Hart said, noting that because you don’t have to buy oil or diesel to run a renewable power plant, the running costs are nil.
In addition, the Secretary-General gave an example of the unfair conditions that developing countries face in the energy transition.
“I compare Algeria and Denmark. Denmark has some of the worst potential for renewable energy [while] Algeria’s renewable energy potential is probably 70 times higher. But Denmark has seven times more solar panels than Algeria. The reason is the cost of capital,” Hart explained, citing the returns expected by those who provide capital to companies.
He noted that the international community must “throw the sink” in solving this problem.
Hart believes that “mobilizing the trillions of dollars needed for the transition should be the focus, rather than investing in new fossil fuel projects, which he sees as a real risk that could result in in lost assets are invested or debts passed on to future generations,” the UN News reported.
“Fossil fuels are a dead end, as one secretary-general said… We need to increase renewable energy deployment to about 60 percent of total energy capacity over the next eight years, roughly tripling installed capacity over the course of this decade,” he said noted that this is more than possible “because the world has tripled its renewable energy capacity in the last decade.”
“We just have to repeat it this decade. The technologies are there; the finances are there. It just has to be deployed in the right place, where the emissions are and where the population growth and energy needs are,” he urged.
Power plants with fossil fuels are considered to be one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases and therefore make a significant contribution to climate change.