The United Nations has oil tankers in its sights. The UN Secretary General called on Wednesday January 18 to prosecute the major groups in the sector for having hidden for decades the information they had on global warming and the causal link with fossil fuels.
“Some fossil fuel producers were well aware in the 1970s that their flagship product was going to burn the planet”said Antonio Guterres during a speech at the Davos Forum. “However, like the tobacco industry, they have made little use of their own science”he continued during his speech, adding that some oil giants had “ peddled the big lie”.
From the end of the 1970s, the oil giant ExxonMobil had predictions on global warming made by its own scientists, with remarkable accuracy: what was taking shape happened several decades later, confirmed a study published Friday in the prestigious magazine Science. However, the company has for years publicly cast doubt on the state of scientific knowledge in this area, it is also recalled.
After publication in Sciencea company spokesperson said that “This question has surfaced several times in recent years”adding: “Cach time our answer is the same: those who talk about what “Exxon knew” are wrong in their conclusions. »
According to Antonio Guterres, “those responsible must be prosecuted” as the tobacco companies have been. In 1998, the tobacco giants had agreed to pay 206 billion dollars (176 billion euros at the rate of the time) to forty-six American states over a period of twenty-five years, in order to cover the costs incurred for care for former smokers.
For several years now, ExxonMobil has been accused of having held a double discourse on climate change caused by the immense quantities of greenhouse gases released by humanity into the atmosphere, among other things by the combustion of coal or oil. to produce energy. “We must put an end to the lies of the oil, gas and coal giants, and take collective action to phase them out”reacted the initiative of the non-proliferation treaty of fossil fuels, in a press release welcoming the speech of the secretary general of the UN.
According to this organization, which campaigns for strict supervision of fossil fuel producers, the slow progress of governments in the fight against the effects on the climate of the oil giants is due to “the influence of fossil industry lobbyists”.
“Flirt with climate disaster”
The question of the impact of the oil industry on the planet is all the more pressing today as “every week brings its share of horrifying stories”worried the UN Secretary General, who talks about “flirts with climate disaster”. On January 12, the World Meteorological Organization confirmed that the past eight years have been the hottest on record.
“The oil must stay in the ground”, urged 20-year-old Ecuadorian Amazon activist Helena Gualinga in an interview with Agence France-Presse on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting. Along with Sweden’s Greta Thunberg and other young activists, she is one of the new faces of the mobilization against climate change.
The direction the oil industry is taking is distressing, according to Antonio Guterres: “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.
The UN secretary general blasted climate commitments “doubtful” Where “dark” many companies on a goal of zero carbon dioxide emissions: this “misleading consumers, investors and regulators with false narratives”and opens the door to “green washing”. “Our climate commitments require the full engagement of the private sector”he insisted, saying he believed that “the battle to hold the 1.5 degree goal [de hausse globale des températures] will be won or lost in this decade”.