‘Big lie’: The UN secretary-general called on Wednesday for major oil companies, like tobacco companies, to be held accountable for hiding information they have about global warming for years.
“Some fossil fuel producers in the 1970s were well aware that their flagship product would burn the planet,” António Guterres said during a speech at a forum in Davos.
“But like the tobacco industry, they ignored their own science,” he added, concluding that “some oil giants are spreading big lies.”
Back in the 1980s, oil giant ExxonMobil had remarkably accurate global warming predictions made by its own scientists that turned out to be exactly what happened decades later, a study published Thursday in the prestigious journal Science confirms.
However, the company has publicly questioned the state of scientific knowledge in this area for years, the publication also notes.
– $246 billion –
According to António Guterres, “the perpetrators must be held accountable”, as well as the tobacco companies. A reference to the $246 billion that the US tobacco giants agreed to pay out in 1998 to 46 states over 25 years to cover the costs incurred in treating ex-smokers.
For several years now, ExxonMobil has been accused of double-dealing about climate change caused by the huge amount of greenhouse gases emitted by humanity into the atmosphere, in particular from burning coal or oil to generate energy.
Following a publication in the journal Science, a company spokesperson told AFP that “this question has come up several times in recent years,” adding that “every time, our answer is the same: those who cite +Exxon+knew+are wrong.” . in their conclusions.
The question of the impact of the oil industry on the planet is all the more acute now that “every week brings its share of horrific stories,” worries the UN Secretary General, who speaks of “flirting with climate catastrophe.”
Last Thursday, the World Meteorological Organization confirmed that the past eight years have been the hottest on record.
“Oil must stay in the ground,” said Helena Gualinga, a 20-year-old Amazon activist from Ecuador, in an interview with AFP on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum. Along with Greta Thunberg and other young activists, she is one of the new faces of the climate change movement.
But that’s not the direction the oil industry is headed, António Guterres laments: “Today, fossil fuel producers and those who support them continue to struggle to increase production, knowing full well that their economic model is incompatible with the survival of mankind.”
“This madness is science fiction,” he rapped.
More broadly, the UN Secretary-General has criticized the “questionable” or “incomprehensible” climate commitments of many companies for the zero-carbon goal: it “misleads consumers, investors and regulators with false stories” and opens the door to green laundering. “.
“Our climate commitments require the full commitment of the private sector,” he insisted, believing that “the battle to achieve the 1.5 degree (global warming) goal will be won or lost within this decade.”