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EU countries must avoid 'backtracking' on climate goals, UN says

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By Euronews  with AP
Wooden beehives are kept on a patch of reclaimed land at a lignite mine near the northern Greek city of Kozani, as excavating equipment is seen in the background.
Wooden beehives are kept on a patch of reclaimed land at a lignite mine near the northern Greek city of Kozani, as excavating equipment is seen in the background.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

The United Nations' acting human rights chief urged European Union member states on Monday to avoid "backtracking" on their climate goals in the face of an energy crisis on Monday.

Nada Al-Nashif called on the EU in a speech before the human rights council on Monday "to consider the long-term consequences of locking in more fossil fuel infrastructure."

Several member states, she pointed out, are turning to investments in fossil fuel infrastructure as energy prices skyrocket across the bloc.

"It is essential to accelerate the development of energy efficiency projects and renewables," Al-Nashif said. "There is no room for backtracking in the face of the ongoing climate crisis."

European countries, faced with the possibility of gas shortages this winter, are working to secure alternative energy sources and more supplies of natural gas. Some countries have restarted coal-fired plants due to the crisis.

The acting UN high commissioner for human rights outlined concerns in more than 30 countries, from restrictions on people voicing opposition in Russia to the war in Ukraine to hostilities in northern Ethiopia.

Al-Nashif made only passing reference to a report raising concerns about China’s controversial campaign to fight terrorism and extremism in Western Xinjiang that could at times have amounted to “crimes against humanity” against Uyghurs and other minorities.

It was released in the waning minutes of the tenure of former rights chief Michelle Bachelet. Beijing lashed out at the report, calling it part of a plot by Western nations to block China’s rise.

Al-Nashif has held the temporary post since the term of former Chilean President Bachelet expired on August 31. Her successor — Austrian diplomat and U.N. veteran Volker Türk -- takes over the job in the coming days.

The four-week autumn session at the council, which brings together 47 UN member states, is expected to take up “country situations” in many places including Afghanistan, Congo, Myanmar, Ukraine, and Venezuela.