The UN chief recently launched an all-out attack on the fossil fuel industry, accusing it of having “humanity by the throat” and calling on leaders of the world’s major economies to “end the age of fossil fuels.”
“The first duty of leadership is to protect people from clear and present dangers,” Antonio Guterres said in a speech to the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. “Nothing could be more clear or present than the danger of fossil fuel expansion.”
The virtual meeting, hosted by US President Joe Biden, brings together countries representing 80 percent of global GDP, population, and greenhouse gas emissions, the White House said.
“Even in the short term, fossil fuels don’t make political or economic sense,” Guterres said. “Yet we seem trapped in a world where fossil fuel producers and financiers have humanity by the throat.”
The UN chief accused the fossil fuel industry of having tried for decades to convince leaders and sway public opinion of its limited responsibility for climate change, and for seeking to “undermine ambitious climate policies.”
“They exploited precisely the same scandalous tactics as Big Tobacco decades before,” he said, referring to what he called the industry’s push to obfuscate its products’ harm and what it knew concerning the dangers.
“Let’s make sure the war in Ukraine is not used to increase that dependency,” he added.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Western nations imposed steep sanctions on Moscow, sending food and fuel prices up at a blistering rate.
“The climate crisis is our number one emergency,” Guterres said.