“Cease and desist: No more fossil fuels.” With these words – and an appeal letter which in a few hours has already been signed by almost 700 thousand people – the four young activists Greta Thunberg (Sweden), Vanessa Nakate (Uganda), Luisa Neubauer (Germany) and Helena Gualinda (Ecuador) invite the CEO of oil and gas multinationals to immediately stop investing in fossil fuels. The petition comes on the eve of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. In the first meeting back in attendance after the pandemic, the economic issues related to the energy crisis and war will once again be at the center of the debate, but ample space – the over 2500 participants promise – will also be given to discussions on the climate emergency.
The head of an oil multinational will preside over Cop28. The anger of environmentalists
by Giacomo Talignani
The Forum opens after a complex start to the year for activists engaged in the climate battle: first the appointment as president of the future COP28 in Dubai of Sultan Al-Jaber, who is also CEO of an oil multinational, then in West Germany the eviction ( which was completed today) of Lutzerath, a village where the expansion of a coal mine will now begin after days of protest (in which even Greta was removed by the police). Attention therefore now shifts to Switzerland to put pressure on world leaders (50 heads of state expected) and on those same powerful people who, last year in Davos, with their private jets quadrupled the emissions linked to air traffic, according to research by Greenpeace.
The Battle of Lützerath Against Coal. Greta Thunberg with activists
by Giacomo Talignani
The four champions of the environment, to ask companies for a real step forward in decarbonisation and one backward linked to the possible opening of new plants, will therefore attempt to personally deliver to some of the oil and gas administrators present at the WEF (including example BP, Chevron, Saudi Aramco), the signatures collected so far.
Addressing the CEOs directly, the activists ask to “immediately stop opening new oil, gas or coal extraction sites and to stop blocking the transition to clean energy that we all so urgently need”. Implicit, for example, is the reference to Lutzerath where Germany aims to extract coal until 2030, justifying this need within the energy mix needed to move forward after the Russian gas crisis.
ExxonMobil has known about climate change since the 1970s
by Jaime D’Alessandro
Furthermore, the activists recall how oil and gas companies have known “for decades that fossil fuels cause catastrophic climate change”, they write, referring in particular to the study that appeared in Science which states that Exxon Mobile had already been aware of the production since the 1970s of oil-related emissions and the resulting global warming.
Also in the letter, they finally argue that science has been telling us for years that “it is wrong to burn fossil fuels” but despite this, politics has “deceived” us. Therefore, the activists reiterate to the CEOs, it is time to “put an end to these activities as they directly violate our human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment” and argue that “if you do not act immediately, keep in mind that citizens from all over the world will consider taking any legal action to hold you accountable.” In the meantime, awaiting the delivery of the petition, at the beginning of the Forum there have already been protests by a hundred activists asking global leaders to put an end to the inaction linked to the climate crisis.
In a WEF with few G7 leaders present and fewer high-sounding names than in the past, the hope is that the climate issue will really be tackled this year: the Global Risk Report 2023 explains that without a strong commitment from the various countries, pandemic, war and disinformation risks even in 2023 “threatening efforts to address long-term risks, especially those related to climate change and biodiversity”. Finally, research by the Boston Consulting Group also recalls how the need to tackle the climate crisis is now an economic need: adverse events due to climate change in 2022 generated costs of at least 227 billion dollars and projections tell us that without A curb on emissions by 2050 risks incurring damages worth between 1.1 and 1.8 trillion dollars.