Do not backtrack on climate goals amid energy crunch, UN tells EU
The United Nations has called on European Union countries not to resort to more fossil fuels as they face soaring energy prices amid fears of winter shortages.
Countries in the bloc are in the middle of an escalating standoff with Russia following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine more than six months ago. Moscow has since reduced supplies of gas to EU members, sending prices for the fuel soaring and throwing national economies into deep uncertainty.
“In the face of soaring energy prices which threaten to impact the most vulnerable as winter approaches, some EU member states are turning to investments in fossil fuels infrastructure and supplies,” Nada al-Nashif, deputy UN rights chief, told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday.
“There is no room for backtracking in the face of the ongoing climate crisis,” al-Nashif said, warning of the long-term consequences of boosting the use of fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.
She pointed to the devastating floods affecting more than 33 million people in Pakistan as an example of what happens when the world fails to act on climate change.
“How many more tragedies of this sort do we need before the urgency of the moment jolts us into action,” she said.
Speaking at the opening of the council’s 51st session in Geneva, al-Nashif acknowledged that the soaring energy prices in Europe “threaten to impact the most vulnerable as winter approaches”.
But Moscow continues to insist that the sanctions are causing supply issues.
Before the war, about 40 percent of the EU’s gas imports came from Russia. Now Germany and others are scrambling to come up with new ways to heat homes and power factories.
Al-Nashif, who is currently serving as acting high commissioner for human rights until new chief Volker Turk replaces Michelle Bachelet, called for the development of energy-saving projects and renewable energy sources to be urgently accelerated.
“I urge the EU and its member states to consider the long-term consequences of locking in more fossil fuel infrastructure,” she said.