UN chief criticizes ‘grotesque greed’ of oil companies
UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The head of the United Nations on Wednesday sharply criticized the “grotesque greed” of oil and gas companies for making record profits from the energy crisis on the backs of the world’s poorest people, “while destroying our only home”.
Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was “immoral” that the biggest energy companies made combined profits of nearly $100 billion in the first quarter of the year.
He urged all governments to tax such excessive profits “and use the funds to support the most vulnerable people in these difficult times”.
António Guterres urged people around the world to send a message to the fossil fuel industry and their financiers that “this preposterous greed is punishing the poorest and most vulnerable people, while destroying our one common home, the planet. “.
The Secretary General spoke at the press conference launching a report from the Global Crisis Response Group he set up to address the interconnected triple crisis of food, energy and finance that has particularly hit countries trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and deal with the devastating impact of war in Ukraine.
António Guterres told reporters that “we are seeing excessive and outrageous profits from the oil and gas industry at a time when we are all losing money” due to inflation of around 7-8%. And “nothing will be more popular than taxing excessive profits…and distributing that money to the most vulnerable families,” he said.
The crisis group has previously presented recommendations on food and finance and Guterres said he believes “we are making progress” in those areas, particularly on food.
The report released on Wednesday focuses on the energy crisis, and the secretary-general said he was aiming to secure the equivalent of the grain deal he first offered to the Russian and Ukrainian presidents to allow grain Ukrainians from being shipped from ports blocked by Russia on the Black River. Maritime markets to the world desperately need food supplies. The first ship to leave Ukraine was heading for Lebanon on Wednesday after a three-hour inspection in Turkish waters.
António Guterres said speculators and obstacles to getting grain and fertilizer to world markets during the war in Ukraine drove up food prices. But since negotiations over the grains deal “gained ground”, he said, there had been “a significant drop” and today the prices of most foodstuffs and fertilizers are more or less at their pre-war prices.
“But that does not mean that the bread in the bakery was the same price before the war, because those are quotations in the wholesale markets, some of which are linked to futures contracts,” he said, and from many other factors contribute to higher prices, including transportation and insurance costs and supply chain disruptions.
UN trade chief Rebeca Grynspan, who coordinated the crisis panel, said wheat prices were down nearly 50% from their peak, corn and fertilizer prices fell nearly 25% over the past month and crude oil is now around $93 a barrel versus $120. a barrel in June. “Only natural gas bucked the trend and is still higher than a month ago,” she told reporters via video from Geneva.
The drop in prices is “good news”, Grynspan said, but they have been high for too long and since June the forecast for extreme poverty has risen by 71 million people and the forecast for food insecurity by 47 million.
In another key recommendation, the crisis group urges wealthier developed countries, in particular, to save energy, including by reducing the use of air conditioning and heating and promoting public transport “and energy-based solutions”. nature”.
Guterres said new technologies, including battery storage, “should become public goods”, and governments must scale up and diversify supply chains for raw materials and renewable energy technologies.
The group also recommends increasing private and multilateral funding for “the green energy transition”. And he backed the International Energy Agency’s goal to increase investment in renewables by a factor of seven to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net zero’. by 2050 to help curb human-induced climate change.
“Today, developing countries spend around $150 billion on clean energy,” said Grynspan, secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. “They have to spend $1 trillion on investments.”