As the war in Ukraine continues to rage, skyrocketing energy prices are compounding an existential cost-of-living crisis for hundreds of millions of people, the UN chief said on Wednesday, introducing the third is a series of briefings from the Global Crisis Response Group (GCRG) on Food, Energy and Finance.
Secretary-General António Guterres said it was “immoral” that major oil and gas companies are reporting “record profits”, while prices soar.
“The combined profits of the largest energy companies in the first quarter of this year are close to $100 billion,” he said, urging governments to “tax these excessive profits, and use the funds raised to support the most vulnerable people through these difficult times”.
The brief from the GCRG – set up by the UN chief in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – recommends that governments find effective funding for energy solutions, such as publicly financed cash transfers and rebate policies to protect vulnerable communities, including windfall taxes on the largest oil and gas companies, while also advocating for a transition to more cost-effective renewables.
“Developing countries don’t lack reasons to invest in renewables. Many of them are living with the severe impacts of the climate crisis including storms, floods and droughts,” said Mr. Guterres.
“What they lack are concrete, workable options”.
The brief comes on the heels of the landmark Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement between the UN, Russia, Türkiye and Ukraine, to allow the commercial shipment of grain to world markets, from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
And it makes clear that the Ukraine war and global energy crisis that it has caused, is a stark reminder that energy resilience and a stronger push for a renewable energy transition is needed.
As outlined by the Secretary-General, policies must be in place and readily available that include social protection measures for those affected by the transition and materials to support renewables.
“We have to scale up financing and technology transfer for the developing countries and the energy poor of the world,” said Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and GCRG brief coordinator.
“Renewable energy is often the cheapest, and most quick to deploy source of electricity for many countries,” said Ms. Grynspan.
“But this is only true if we ensure that supply chains work well and without bottlenecks; that the workforce has the right skills and that enough funds will be made available for the initial investments”.