UN chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday outlined a global martial plan to launch a world powered by renewable energy instead of coal, gas and oil.
To avoid catastrophic climate change, mankind must “end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the transfer of renewable energy before burning our only home,” he said in a pre-determined statement consistent with the release of a major UN climate report.
Renewable technologies should be treated as freely available “global public goods”, not limited by intellectual property, he said.
An alternative could be so-called patent pooling, as major pharmaceutical companies have done to speed up the delivery of life-saving drugs for HIV / AIDS and tuberculosis, a senior UN official said on condition of anonymity.
“The Secretary-General believes that there should be a dialogue on intellectual property because we are in a crisis,” the UN official said.
“If we have a ready solution, why not relax the intellectual property rules so that the solution can help us solve this crisis?”
Guterres, referring to battery storage, called for an international alliance of government-led industry, technology companies and financial institutions to “quickly-track innovation and installation”.
Solar and wind are the fastest growing clean energy technologies, but the storage of renewable electricity that can only be created during sunlight or when wind is blowing has become an endless obstacle to a faster rollout.
Not fast enough
It was unclear whether Guterres envisioned a new oversight body to work through existing structures, such as the 86-nation International Solar Alliance or the G20 group of major economies.
The UN chief’s five-point plan to “jump-start” the renewable boom calls for increasing the level and diversification of the supply of vital elements such as rare earth metals and raw materials.
At present, lithium – important for making electric car batteries – comes from a handful of countries, with China controlling 80 percent of global refining, according to BloombergNEF.
Conversion to clean energy will require a much larger supply of copper, silicon, nickel, cobalt and other materials that are scarce and / or in high demand.
Europe alone is estimated to need 35 times more lithium in the next three decades than it does today.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable power expansion is forecast for about 95 percent of global electricity growth by 2026.
But the projected growth is not nearly as rapid as the Paris Agreement’s goal of capturing global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level.
Currently, solar and wind energy account for only eight percent of global electricity generation. Adding hydro and other renewable sources pushes up to 30 percent of the total, while coal and gas are still dominant overall.
Guterres added that governments must cut the red tape and streamline approvals for solar and wind projects.
The IEA has identified permit issuance and grid integration as major barriers to accelerating renewable installations.
“In Europe, it takes eight years to get approval for a wind project,” the UN official said.
“In the United States, I realize that at the federal level alone, this could take up to a decade, where one would have to go through about 28 federal agencies.”
The UN secretary-general has also called for an end to the estimated half-a-trillion-dollar subsidy on fossil fuels, about two-thirds of which goes to consumers and the rest directly to industry.
“Every minute of every day, coal, oil and gas receive about 11 11 million in subsidies,” Guterres said.
“While people suffer from high prices at the pump, the oil and gas industry is earning billions from a distorted market,” he added. “This scandal needs to be stopped.”
Finally, Guterres challenged private and public funding to increase investment in solar and wind to at least $ 4 trillion a year, more than three times the current level.
Development banks and finance institutions should align their loan portfolios with the Paris Agreement temperature targets by 2024, he said.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)