Credit: UN

UN Secretary-General urges Asean countries to embrace carbon pricing to phase out from coal

4 of the 10 countries most affected by climate change are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

The UN chief said during his attendance at the ASEAN Summit, which was wrapped yesterday, he was particularly worried about the future impact of the high number of new coal power plants still projected in some parts of the world, including several countries in East, South and South East Asia. 

Mr Guterres told reporters during their briefing that there was an addiction to coal that “we need to overcome” because it remained a major threat in relation to climate change.

Countries in these areas that are countries that are in one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change needed to give an example and needed to be in the front line of carbon pricing of stopping subsidies to fossil fuels, and of stopping the construction of coal power electricity plants, in order to be able to defeat climate change, and to preserve the beautiful cities like Bangkok and others that people want as a legacy to humankind forever, Mr Guterres said, having projected this as the very message that should  be addressed at the  summit.

This, he added, required a lot of political commitments, and “we are not yet that we are lagging behind,” he said. 

The price of carbon was needed to be tagged and the world needed to stop subsidies for fossil fuels. And “we need to stop the creation of new power plants based on coal in the future”, the UN chief pointed.

The UN chief futher said that this question was particularly sensitive in this part of the world because there is still a meaningful number of new coal power plants for electricity production that is foreseen in the future in East Asia, in Southeast Asia and in South Asia.

Mr Guterres as the UN chief has been a strong advocate for progress on carbon pricing, ensuring no new coal plants by 2020, and ending the allocation of trillions of taxpayer dollars for the fossil fuel subsidies that allegedly boost hurricanes, spread tropical diseases and heighten conflict.

The UN chief informed the press of a recently published report, saying that climate change was causing ocean levels to rise much faster than previously forecasted. 

“According to this new report, unless we are able to…defeat climate change, in 2050, the research has forecasted that 300 million people will be flooded by sea water in the world,” Mr. Guterres stated, and called climate change “the biggest threat to the planet at the present moment, (and) the defining issue of our time”.

Pledging his commitment to raising global attention on the need “to abide by what scientists tell us is necessary to do”, he argued  that “we need to contain the rising temperatures 1.5 degrees until the end of the century” and “to be carbon neutral in 2050 and reduce the emissions by 45 per cent in the next decade”. 

As also illustrated by the same report, 70 per cent of the global population most at risk of rising sea-levels are within ASEAN and other countries at the summit.

Dramatically, the most vulnerable areas are exactly in Southeast Asia, in Japan, China, Bangladesh and India. And according to this research, Thailand risks to have 10% of its population in flooded areas by the sea.

“This region is highly vulnerable, particularly to rising sea-levels, with catastrophic consequences for low-lying communities, as recently published research illustrated,” the UN chief said.

Source: UN News