Investing in sustainable energy could create 27 million jobs in 3 years

The United Nations Secretary-General has welcomed the domestic stimulus and investment plans in response to COVID-19 of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Germany and South Korea which are speeding up the decarbonization of their economies.

Secretary-General António Guterres today delivered the 19th Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture to an audience in India making the case that sustainable choices are needed now to create jobs, access to energy, reduce emissions and improve health.

He pointed out the job-creation potential of renewable energy investments.

“These same investments could help create 9 million jobs annually over the next three years,” Guterres said. “Investments in renewable energy generate three times more jobs than investments in polluting fossil fuels.

With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to push many people back into poverty, such job creation is an opportunity that can’t be missed.”

Coal business up in smoke

The Secretary-General warned that while he is encouraged by these positive signals, there were also several negative trends.

“Recent research on G20 recovery packages shows that twice as much recovery money has been spent on fossil fuels as clean energy. In some cases, we are seeing countries doubling down on domestic coal and opening up coal auctions. “

The Secretary-General has urged the G20 countries to invest in a clean, green transition as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This means ending fossil fuel subsidies, placing a price on carbon pollution and committing to no new coal after 2020,” Mr. Guterres said.

Guterres also argued that renewable energy is the way to go, not least, because it is already cheaper to build new renewable energy capacity than to continue operating 39 per cent of the world’s existing coal capacity. “This is why the world’s largest investors are increasingly abandoning coal. They see the writing on the wall. It spells stranded assets and makes no commercial sense. The coal business is going up in smoke.”

5.5 million lives could be saved annually

In his speech Mr. Guterres also argued that investing in fossil fuels means more deaths and illness and rising healthcare costs.

“This year, researchers in the United States concluded that people living in regions with high levels of air pollution are more likely to die from COVID-19. If fossil fuel emissions were eliminated, overall life expectancy could rise by more than 20 months, avoiding 5.5 million deaths per year worldwide.

It is, simply put, a human disaster and bad economics,” Mr. Guterres said.

270 million could get access to electricity

He pointed out that investments in renewable energy clean transport and energy efficiency during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic could extend electricity access to 270 million people worldwide – fully a third of the people that currently lack it.

He has urged world governments to take six climate-positive actions to recover better from the pandemic.

“Invest in green jobs.  Do not bail out polluting industries.  End fossil-fuel subsidies. Take climate risks into account in all financial and policy decisions.

Work together. Most important, leave no one behind,” Mr. Guterres said.


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