Posted Jan 19, 2023, 4:33 PM
She had not come to the World Economic Forum in Davos in person since 2020. Climate activist Greta Thunberg, 21, did not mince words on Thursday during a panel discussion on the sidelines of the international meeting which brings together political leaders and business owners from around the world.
“We are in Davos right now where basically the people who are primarily fueling the destruction of the planet, the people who are at the very heart of the climate crisis, the people who are investing in fossil fuels and so on. […] are kind of the ones we seem to rely on to solve our problems,” she criticized. “We seem to listen to them, rather than the people who are living this crisis on the front line”, a situation which she considered “absurd”.
A petition and 900,000 signatures
Along with three other figures of climate activism -Ecuadorian from the Amazon Helena Gualinga, Ugandan Vanessa Nakate and German Luisa Neubauer-, the face of Friday For Future urged the leaders of the oil sector to “gradually exit fossil fuels,” referring to a report “that said they knew the impacts on humans and the environment,” she said. A petition they initiated this week to demand that multinationals stop the exploitation of fossil fuels has gathered nearly 900,000 signatures, said Greta Thunberg.
The day before, in Davos, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had already strongly criticized the oil industry, and accused some in the sector of “peddling the big lie”. “Some fossil fuel producers were well aware in the 1970s that their flagship product was going to burn the planet,” he said.
A study published in the journal “Science” last week confirmed that the American company ExxonMobil had in its hands in the 1980s very accurate predictions on global warming, made by its own scientists. “This question” has “surfaced several times in recent years”, reacted the group quoted by AFP. “Each time, our answer is the same: those who evoke what “Exxon knew” are wrong in their conclusions”.
Antonio Guterres’ remarks “slightly surprised” Patrick Pouyané, the boss of TotalEnergies, interviewed from Davos on BFM Business. It is a “false debate”, he estimated, explaining that in the 90s, “we knew nothing at all”. “I don’t have climate scientists at TotalEnergies,” he said.
It remains that if the climate crisis marks the spirits in Davos, it does not occupy the front of the stage, in a context of crises which multiply. By the admission of Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, who took part in the debate with the four young activists, “the attention paid to climate change is unfortunately declining”.
His presence at their side is a message to the world, he assured, warning that “if we are not able to transform the energy sector, today responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions greenhouse effect, we will not be able to achieve the climate objectives”.
The “magic word”, according to him, is “investment”. Investments in “clean” energies, the pace of which must still significantly accelerate, and which must reach 4 trillion dollars. “The transition is underway, but not at the speed that we would like to see”, argued Fatih Birol, stressing that “the international political will is lacking”.