2 December 2020

Urging European Union to Adopt New Climate Targets, Deputy Secretary-General Says Investments in Renewable Energy Produce More Jobs than Fossil Fuels

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks to the “People and Climate:  Just Transition in Practice” webinar, in Poland today:

It is a pleasure to speak to you at this crucial moment in the world’s efforts to overcome climate change.  The European Union and its member States have a strong history of leadership on climate action, including the commitment to achieve net‑zero emissions by 2050.

Today there is encouraging news:  Japan and the Republic of Korea, together with more than 110 other countries, have now pledged carbon neutrality by 2050.  China says it will do so before 2060.  India’s leadership on solar and the industry transition is reason to believe that we can achieve our climate goals.

In this context, it is essential that the European Union delivers on its promise to adopt a new climate target this year by coming forward with a baseline of reducing emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030.  It is also crucial for the European Union to accelerate its transition toward renewable energy.

There must be no new coal, and all existing coal in the European Union and in all Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries should be phased out by 2030 and by 2040 elsewhere.  And the financing of fossil fuels internationally must come to an end.

By fully implementing its plan to green the region, “Next Generation EU”, and by mainstreaming climate change into its long‑term budget, the European Union can show the world how to move to carbon neutrality while ensuring prosperity and a just transition.  The Climate Ambition Summit the Secretary‑General is co‑hosting with the United Kingdom on 12 December to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change is a timely opportunity to do so.

A just transition is critical.  Poland has long highlighted this.  As Governments look to restart their economies following the devastation from COVID‑19, it is vital that we pursue a recovery that is not only sustainable, resilient and fair, but also job‑rich.  The notion that we must choose between climate action and economic strength has been proven wrong.  Investments in renewable energy yield three times more jobs than investments in fossil fuels.

Yet, a just transition must be a managed transition.  We have model agreements that can serve as inspiration.  Poland and the European Union can be global champions on a just transition, with technologies and approaches that can be applied around the world, demonstrating that the transformation we need to see globally is possible.

I urge all Governments to work with all stakeholders to develop credible just transition plans.  Meeting the climate challenge means major shifts in our economies and societies, and these will naturally bring significant impacts on people, families and communities that touch the core of their identities and well‑being.

A just transition cannot be an afterthought; it is an integral part of climate action and a responsibility for all of us.  This webinar can add to the discourse that will enable the necessary pathways to a just transition. I wish you the best in your discussions.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.