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The fossil fuel industry is "feasting" on billions in subsidies and windfall profits as "our planet burns," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday in his address to the General Assembly.
"Our world is addicted to fossil fuels. It's time for an intervention," Guterres said, adding that we need to hold fossil fuel companies "and their enablers" to account.
Those enablers include banks, private equity firms, asset managers, and other financial institutions that continue to "invest and underwrite carbon pollution." The enablers also include the "public relations machine that is raking in billions" by protecting the fossil fuel industry.
Guterres then called on all developed economies to tax windfall profits of fossil fuel companies, the funds of which should be given to "countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis; and to people struggling with rising food and energy prices."
Guterres also called on leaders to realize the goals of the Paris Agreement. What's more, Guterres said, renewable energy creates more jobs, is cheaper than fossil fuels, and is "the pathway to energy security, stable prices, and new industries."
Developing countries need help to make this shift, he added, through international coalitions to support their energy transitions.
Last month, Guterres also spoke out against the oil and gas industry, accusing it of "grotesque greed," citing the "close to $100 billion" in combined profits in Q1 from the world's largest oil and gas companies.
"It is immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis on the backs of the poorest people and communities, at a massive cost to the climate," Guterres said at the time.
"The climate crisis is coming," Guterres warned, followed by a "once-in-a-generation global cost-of-living crisis", fallout from the pandemic, soaring food and energy prices, inflation, and more. The result, the Secretary General said, is inevitable social unrest "with conflict not far behind."'
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.