A “big lie”: the UN Secretary General, António Guteres, has called this Wednesday to persecute and prosecute the big oil companies, as were the tobacco companies in their day, for having hidden for years the information they had on global warming world.
“Some fossil fuel producers were well aware in the 1970s that their flagship product was going to burn up the planet,” Antonio Guterres said during a speech at the Davos Forum.
“But, like the tobacco industry, they ignored their own science,” Guterres added, deducing that “some oil giants have been selling the big lie.”
As far back as the 1980s, oil giant ExxonMobil had in its possession remarkably accurate global warming projections made by its own scientists, which turned out to be accurate because they were confirmed after a few decades, a study published Thursday in the Journal confirmed. prestigious Science magazine.
However, the company has spent years publicly questioning the state of scientific knowledge in this area, this publication also points out.
Following the 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 mean what that ‘Exxon knew’ are wrong in their conclusions.”
For several years, ExxonMobil has been accused of having sustained a double standard on climate change caused by the immense amounts of greenhouse gases that humanity releases into the atmosphere, in particular through the combustion of coal or oil to produce Energy.
According to Antonio Guterres, “those responsible must be tried” as the tobacco companies have been. It is a reference to the $246 billion that US tobacco giants had agreed to pay in 1998 to 46 states over a 25-year period to cover the costs incurred to treat ex-smokers.
“We must put an end to the lies of the oil, gas and coal giants, and take collective action to eliminate them,” the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative said in a statement welcoming the UN chief’s speech. .
According to this organization, which campaigns for greater oversight of fossil fuel producers, the slow progress of governments in combating the climate change effects of oil giants is due to “the influence of lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry. .
The question of the impact of the oil industry on the planet is all the more pressing today as “every week brings us a part of horrible stories”, says the UN Secretary General, who speaks of “flirting with climate disaster”.
Last Thursday, the World Meteorological Organization confirmed that the past eight years have been the hottest on record.
But Guterres points out that this industry is not taking the right path. “Today, fossil fuel producers and those who support them continue to fight to increase production, knowing full well that their economic model is incompatible with the survival of humanity.”
“This madness is science fiction,” he hammered.
Criticism of dubious commitments
More generally, the UN secretary-general criticized the “dubious” or “dark” climate commitments of many companies to the goal of zero carbon emissions: “it misleads consumers, investors and regulators with false stories” and opens the door to door to “green washing”. “.
“Our climate commitments require the full commitment of the private sector,” he insisted, who considered that “the battle to meet the goal of 1.5 degrees (of global warming) will be won or lost during this decade.”