United Nations, May 29: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, while urging the governments to impose taxes on pollution and end subsidies for fossil fuels, said: "We need a green economy, not a grey economy."
Guterres was speaking at the World Summit of the R20 Coalition on Tuesday, a UN-supported environmental organisation, founded by former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The idea that subsidising fossil fuels is a way to improve people’s lives could not be more wrong, said the UN chief in the Austrian capital, Vienna, because it means spending taxpayers’ money to "boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals: to destroy the world."
Guterres went on to call for the decarbonisation of urban infrastructure, a halt to coal plants, and the promotion of sustainable consumption and production: "in short, we need a green economy, not a grey economy."
In the lead up to the UN Climate Summit this September, the Secretary-General has enlisted the President of France, the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Emir of Qatar to mobilise international support to secure the $100 billion goal agreed by UN Member States at the Paris climate conference in 2015, necessary for advancing climate mitigation and adaptation in the developing world.
One of the other high-profile speakers at the opening session of the event was outspoken Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who initiated the school strike for climate movement in November 2018, at the age of 15. Thunberg said that millions of children have been gaining lots of attention for the climate emergency, but they, like scientists, are not leaders, unlike many of the politicians, CEOs and celebrities attending the Summit.
The work of Governor Schwarzenegger and the R20 coalition, in highlighting the importance of climate action at a "sub-national" city and regional level, was praised by the UN chief, who described sub-national action as being key to addressing the climate crisis.