Saturday 22nd October 2016                 Change text size:

Fossil fuels reserves must stay in the ground, leading UN diplomat warns

World Economic Forum

Former Irish president Mary Robinson has said that governments must face up to the reality that fossil fuels need to be ditched in favour of cleaner sources of energy, in order to keep carbon emissions at a safe level.

Now UN high commissioner for human rights, Robinson told the Guardian, “There is a global limit on a safe level of emissions. That means major fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground. That has huge implications for economic and social development.”

She criticised climate scepticism and the recent attitude of the media on climate change, ahead of the release of the fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

The best way to counter the sceptics is to have strong political leadership”, she said.

They are not based on reality

Robinson added that green growth can create jobs and bring prosperity, although companies having interests in fossil fuels would be an obstacle. However, in the long-term, it would be more convenient to leave them in the ground.

We are already talking to the business community that wants change, but there is obviously a business community that is trying to cloud and distort the science”, she said.

Robinson, who became Ireland’s first female president in 1990, also said that developing countries should not be put in a difficult position and made to feel like they cannot grow in the same way as rich countries did: “It must be managed in a fair way. Developing countries must not bear all the burden. We need a robust and fair climate change agreement.”

The IPCC Working Group 1’s preliminary report is  due to be released this week and will argue that scientists are 95% that human activities are the main cause of global warming.

Further reading:

Governments to read IPCC draft with global warming ‘slowdown’ top of the agenda

The investment case for fossil fuel divestment

Governments must see ‘scientific realities of inaction’ on climate change, says IPCC chief

Climate scientists ‘95% sure’ that global warming is manmade, says leaked IPCC document

The Guide to Climate Change 2013

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