U.N. Chief Guterres Backs Complete Fossil Fuel ‘Phaseout’ Before Flying to Climate Meeting

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sits in a helicopter during his visit to

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres backed a complete fossil fuel “phaseout” Thursday before boarding a jet and following upwards of 70,000 other climate worriers flying into the two-week COP 28 conference in oil-rich Dubai.

Anything less, the veteran Portuguese  socialist cautioned, would result in “total disaster” on humanity’s current trajectory.

“Obviously I am strongly in favor of language that includes (a) phaseout, even with a reasonable time framework,” Guterres said in an interview with AFP.

Some countries have already called for the COP28 final statement, which requires unanimous agreement, to explicitly call for a reduction in fossil fuel consumption, adding their voice to previous Guterres warnings that the planet is doomed on its current course.

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United Nations

That would be a historic first for a COP statement, as the Glasgow 2021 climate conference was only able to agree on mentioning coal, AFP notes.

But for Guterres a simple promise to reduce fossil fuels would not be enough.

“I think it would be a pity if we would stay in a vague and noncommittal ‘phase-down’ whose real meaning would not be obvious for anybody,” he said.

When asked about COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber, an Emirati official and CEO of the national oil company who has become embroiled in accusations of conflicts of interest, the U.N. chief pleaded he had a “special responsibility” to influence the fossil fuel industry.

“He is of course linked to the oil business in his activities, but also linked to renewables, I think it creates with him a special responsibility,” said Guterres.

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