General

UN chief accuses big oil companies of pushing big lie on climate change

The UN's top official on Wednesday accused big oil companies of pushing a "big lie" on climate change.

"They rode rough-shod over their own science ... Today, fossil fuel producers and their enablers are still racing to expand production, knowing full well that their business model is inconsistent with human survival," Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a keynote address at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland.

Calling for those responsible for this to be held responsible, Guterres said the world was "flirting with climate disaster," with greenhouse gas emissions are at record levels.

He warned of impending climate disaster as the commitment in the 2016 Paris accord to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 C "is going up in smoke," as the world heads for an increase of 2.8 C.

"The consequences will be devastating. Several parts of our planet will be uninhabitable. And for many, this is a death sentence.

"But it is not a surprise. The science has been clear for decades.I am not talking only about UN scientists. I am talking about fossil fuel scientists," Guterres asserted.

"We learned last week that certain fossil fuel producers were fully aware in the 1970s that their core product was baking our planet. Just like the tobacco industry, they rode rough-shod over their own science. Big Oil peddled the big lie. And like the tobacco industry, those responsible must be held to account."

Ecosystem meltdown

"Now, this insanity belongs in science fiction, yet we know the ecosystem meltdown is cold, hard scientific fact," said the UN chief.

He said it was a toxic brew and another combustible factor fueling conflict, violence, and war.

"Especially the Russian invasion of Ukraine – not only because of the untold suffering of the Ukrainian people but because of its profound global implications," Guterres.

That invasion impacts global food and energy prices, trade, and supply chains, raising questions of nuclear safety and "on the very foundations of international law" and the UN Charter.

The UN chief said the theme of this year's conference, "Cooperation in a fragmented world," is a perfect setting for the current global dilemma.

"We need cooperation, yet we face fragmentation," said Guterres.

"We are flirting with climate disaster. Every week brings a new climate horror story."

Among these are deepening inequalities and a rapidly unfolding cost-of-living crisis that affects women and girls the most, along with supply chain disruptions, an energy crunch, and soaring prices.

Outlook 'bleak'

Also pointing to the ongoing risk of global economic crisis with many parts of the world facing recession, the UN chief said the outlook was "bleak."

"The entire world faces a slowdown. We see deepening inequalities and a rapidly unfolding cost-of-living crisis – affecting women and girls the most. Supply chain disruptions and an energy crunch. Soaring prices. Rising interest rates along with inflation. And debt levels pounding vulnerable countries," he said.

Guterres underlined that the COVID-19 was still straining economies even amid "the world's failure to prepare for future pandemics."

"Somehow – after all we have endured – we have not learned the global public health lessons of the pandemic. We are nowhere near ready for the pandemics to come," said the UN chief.

He also warned that the North-South divide is deepening.

"I am not convinced that the wealthier world and their leaders truly grasp the degree of frustration and even anger in the Global South," said Guterres referring to "the gross inequity of vaccine distribution in the recent past."

'Far cry' from peace

Underlining the need for cooperation to make progress on major global issues, he pointed to the facilitation of food and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia amid the war.

"But we are a far cry from peace in line with international law and the United Nations Charter. All these challenges are inter-linked. They are piling up like cars in a chain reaction crash," he added.

"Now, let's be clear. It would be difficult to find solutions to these global problems in the best of times – if the world was united. But these are far from the best of times – and the world is far from united. Instead, we face the gravest levels of geopolitical division and mistrust in generations – and it is undermining everything. The East-West divide," he said.

*Peter Kenny from Geneva contributed to this report

Source: Anadolu Agency