The United Nation’s secretary-general, António Guterres, has strongly criticised the world’s biggest oil and gas companies for making “excessive” record profits from the current energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while people around the world suffer from increased prices.
He described the profits as “immoral” and urged governments to “tax these excessive profits and use the funds to raise support for the most vulnerable people.”
Mr Guterres spoke at the launch of the third brief by the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance Wednesday.
“It is immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis on the backs of the poorest people and communities and at a massive cost to the climate,” he said.
“The combined profits of the largest energy companies in the first quarter of this year are close to $100 billion,” Mr Guterres said.
Four of the biggest oil and gas firms – Shell, Exxon, Chevron, and TotalEnergies – earned nearly $51 billion in the first quarter of 2022 – almost double what they made in the same period last year.
BP has reported its largest profit in 14 years, while Shell’s profits in the April-to-June period hit a record.
Mr Guterres said, “I urge all governments to tax these excessive profits and use the funds to support the most vulnerable people through these difficult times.”
“And I urge people everywhere to send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry and their financiers that this grotesque greed is punishing the poorest and most vulnerable people while destroying our only common home, the planet,” he said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has worsened global shortage of oil and gas, with Russia a major supplier.
“The war in Ukraine continues to have a devastating impact on the people of that country. Civilians are dying in the most tragic circumstances every day. Millions of lives have been destroyed or put on hold,” Mr Guterres said.
He added that the war is also having a huge and multi-dimensional impact far beyond Ukraine, through a threefold crisis of access to food, energy and finance.
“Household budgets everywhere are feeling the pinch from high food, transport and energy prices, fueled by climate breakdown and war. This threatens a starvation crisis for the poorest households and severe cutbacks for those on average incomes.
“Many developing countries are drowning in debt, without access to finance, and struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and could go over the brink.
“We are already seeing the warning signs of a wave of economic, social and political upheaval that would leave no country untouched,” he said.
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