Ukraine war threatens global heating goals, warns UN chief

(The Guardian, 21 Mar 2022) António Guterres says countries seeking alternatives to Russian energy may increase use of fossil fuels

The war in Ukraine risks putting global targets on the climate out of reach, the UN secretary general has warned, if countries respond to Russia’s aggression by increasing their use of fossil fuels.

António Guterres said the aim of limiting global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the goal set out at the Cop26 UN climate summit last year, was in peril as countries sought alternatives to Russian oil and gas supplies.

“The fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine risks upending global food and energy markets, with major implications for the global climate agenda. As major economies pursue an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to replace Russian fossil fuels, short-term measures might create long-term fossil fuel dependence and close the window to 1.5C,” he warned, in a video address to a conference on sustainability run by the Economist newspaper in London on Monday.

“Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap policies to cut fossil fuel use,” he went on. “This is madness. Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.”

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The Guardian, 21 Mar 2022: Ukraine war threatens global heating goals, warns UN chief