UN Secretary General António Guterres addressed the COP28 climate conference with a bold message to fossil fuel leaders to change the business model and embrace renewables, along with asking governments to put a fair price on carbon, end fossil fuel subsidies, and adopt a windfall tax on profits.

Guterres was speaking at Expo City Dubai, addressing world leaders and dignitaries on the second day of the climate summit. While he lauded the expedited approval of the Loss and Damage climate disaster fund, which was passed on the first day, Guterres also despaired over the climate catastrophe unfolding,

“Polar ice and glaciers are vanishing before our eyes, causing havoc the world over: from landslides and floods, to rising seas. But this is just one symptom of the sickness bringing our climate to its knees. A sickness only you, global leaders, can cure,” he said.

Addressing governments to “prevent planetary crash and burn,” Guterres continued: “Global heating is busting budgets, ballooning food prices, upending energy markets, and feeding a cost-of-living crisis. Climate action can flip the switch.”

Make a case for an energy transition, he stressed the Global Stocktake taking place at COP this year must push to triple renewables, double energy efficiency, and bring clean energy to all by 2030. This was also why the Global Stocktake also had to “prescribe” a cure in three areas: drastically cutting emissions; transitioning from fossil fuels; and stopping the injustice which was resulting in developing countries paying the price of disasters via high borrowing costs.

“The Global Stocktake must commit to a surge in finance, including for adaptation and loss and damage. And it must support reform of the multilateral development banks to leverage far more private finance at reasonable costs,” he said. “Developed countries must show how they will double adaptation finance to $40 billion a year by 2025 – as promised – and clarify how they deliver on the $100 billion – as promised.”

Guterres also had a message to fossil fuel companies.

“Your old road is rapidly ageing. Do not double-down on an obsolete business model. Lead the transition to renewables,” adding that climate sustainability was also the only viable pathway to economic sustainability of such companies.

(Writing by Bindu Rai, editing by Daniel Luiz)