Fossil fuel companies and the banks that finance them “have humanity by the throat,” António Guterres, the UN secretary general has said.
He compared fossil fuel companies to the tobacco companies that continued to push their addictive products while concealing or attacking health advice that showed clear links between smoking and cancer, the first time he has drawn such a parallel.
He said: “We seem trapped in a world where fossil fuel producers and financiers have humanity by the throat. For decades, the fossil fuel industry has invested heavily in pseudoscience and public relations – with a false narrative to minimise their responsibility for climate change and undermine ambitious climate policies. They exploited precisely the same scandalous tactics as big tobacco decades before. Like tobacco interests, fossil fuel interests and their financial accomplices must not escape responsibility.”
Guterres also castigated governments that are failing to rein in fossil fuels, and in many cases seeking increased production of gas, oil and even coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.
He said: “Nothing could be more clear or present than the danger of fossil fuel expansion. Even in the short-term, fossil fuels don’t make political or economic sense.”
Guterres has apparently been incensed by the recent behaviour of fossil fuel companies, which have been reaping a bonanza from energy prices sent soaring by the Ukraine war. Much of these bumper profits are likely to be invested in fresh exploration and expansion of fossil fuel resources.
Guterres is understood to be furious that, six months after the Cop26 climate summit, and after three dire reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the “starkest warning yet” from climate scientists – countries and businesses are ignoring the science and squandering opportunities to put the world on a greener path, when renewable energy is cheaper and safer than fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency warned last year that all new exploration and development of oil, gas and coal must cease this year to hold to the 1.5C threshold.
A senior UN official explained: “Even given the secretary general’s impressive track record of speaking truth to power, this is a blistering intervention, to the leaders of the world’s largest economies. The fossil fuel industry is taking a page out of big tobacco’s playbook, and that is utterly unacceptable to the secretary general. He’s determined to call out the fossil fuel industry and its financiers, and he won’t be constrained by any diplomatic niceties.” The official added: “For the secretary general, this is the fight of our lives, and he won’t take a backwards step.”
Fossil fuel firms ‘have humanity by the throat’, says UN head in blistering attack | Climate crisis | The Guardian
Post a Comment