2021 Critical in Fighting Against COVID-19, Climate Change: UN Secretary-General

Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR at a Press Conference after 66th session of Excom. 9 October 2015. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

Addis Ababa January 12/2013 (ENA) The year ahead would be critical “not only in beating the COVID-19 pandemic but in meeting the climate challenge”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.

The secretary General made the remark at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Virtual Conference, also known as COP26, which was held under the theme “Achieving a rapid shift to green, affordable and resilient power systems.”

During the meeting the Secretary General renewed his call for developed nations to fulfill their longstanding pledge to provide 100 billion USD a year for developing countries to support both climate mitigation and adaptation.

Huge amounts of money have been earmarked for the COVID-19 recovery and stimulus measures, Guterres added.

But sustainable investments are still not being prioritized Guterres pointed out, and stressed “we must invest in the future of affordable renewable energy for all people, everywhere.”

These discussions have gained an added urgency in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has strained fiscal resources that are available to cope with global crises, it was learned.

The accelerated transition to green, affordable and resilient power systems has been identified as a top priority for COP26.

COP26 President Sharma said the global transition to clean power must move at least four times the current pace to achieve targets set out in Paris Agreement on climate change.

He called for enhanced global cooperation to boost innovation and economies of scale.

“This is our moment in history to make those vital decisive and positive choices so that we can protect the future of our planet and our peoples. So, let’s continue to work together to bring the benefits of clean affordable and resilient power to the world,” Sharma emphasized.

Reiterating that the African Development Bank will no longer finance coal projects, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina pointed out that the Bank had prioritized renewables as the mainstay of its Light Up and Power Africa strategic priority.

As a result, he pointed out that the share of renewable energy in the Bank’s power generation investments now stands at 80 percent

Moreover, Adesina stated that the Bank has been at the forefront of transformative renewable energy projects in Africa.

The Bank expects to invest 10 billion USD in the energy sector over the next five years, he said.

“One of its flagship projects is the 20 billion USD Desert-to-Power program, which strives to build the largest solar zone in the world in the Sahel and to provide electricity to some 250 million people,” he added.

According to the Africa Development Bank, along with UN Secretary General and COP26 President, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio, and representatives from governments, multilateral development banks, the private sector and international organizations have participated in the virtual meeting.