Tax Pollution, Not People: UN Chief António Guterres

Climate activist, Greta Thunberg (l), former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres (r) meet at the R20 Austria World Summit in Vienna. (28 May 2019). Photo: UN Vienna / Nikoleta Haffar
Climate activist, Greta Thunberg (l), former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres (r) meet at the R20 Austria World Summit in Vienna. (28 May 2019). Photo: UN Vienna / Nikoleta Haffar

“We need to tax pollution, not people” and “end subsidies for fossil fuels,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the World Summit of the R20 Coalition on Tuesday (May 28).

The Coalition is a UN-supported environmental organization, founded by former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The idea that subsidizing fossil fuels is a way to improve people’s lives could not be more wrong, said the UN chief in the Austrian capital, Vienna, because it means spending taxpayers’ money to “boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals: to destroy the world.”

[ Also Read: Lethal Pollution Killing People in Delhi ]

Mr. Guterres called for the decarbonization of urban infrastructure, a halt to coal plants, and the promotion of sustainable consumption and production. “We need a green economy, not a grey economy,” he stressed.

In the lead up to the UN Climate Summit this September, the Secretary-General has enlisted the President of France, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, and the Emir of Qatar to mobilize international support to secure the $100 billion goal agreed by UN Member States at the Paris climate conference in 2015, necessary for advancing climate mitigation and adaptation in the developing world.

Mr. Guterres urged investors to stop financing pollution, scale up green ventures, and increase lending for low-carbon solutions.

“The private sector and investment communities must support a bold and ambitions climate agenda, because climate action is not only good for people and the planet, it can also be good for business,” he said.

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