Guterres calls for a clamp down on the fossil fuel industry

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has delivered an attack on the fossil fuel industry in a speech on the occasion of World Environment Day 5 June. Mr.Guterres called for a “clamp down on the fossil fuel industry,” which he accuses of spending billions of dollar on deceiving the public.

“We must directly confront those in the fossil fuel industry who

have shown relentless zeal for obstructing progress – over decades,” the Secretary-General said in a speech at the American Museum of Natural History.

“Billions of dollars have been thrown at distorting the truth, deceiving the public, and sowing doubt.”

He pointed out that many governments restrict or prohibit advertising for products that harm human health – like tobacco.

“I urge every country to ban advertising from fossil fuel companies. And I urge news media and tech companies to stop taking fossil fuel advertising.”

Quote from UNSG Special Address, 5 June, World Environment Day

He urged the fossil fuel industry to invest its “massive profits” in the energy transition and challenged financial institutions to stop bankrolling “fossil fuel destruction.”

Citing new data from leading climate scientists, Guterres admitted that almost ten years since the Paris Agreement was adopted, the target of limiting long-term global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is hanging by a thread.

“The truth is that global emissions need to fall nine per cent every year to 2030 to keep the 1.5 degree limit alive. But they are heading in the wrong direction. Last year they rose by one per cent.”

He reminded the audience that the consequences of higher temperatures would likely include the collapse of the Greenland Ice Sheet and of the Labrador Sea Current that would further disrupt weather patterns in Europe.

“We have what we need to save ourselves,” Guterres said.  “We must secure the safest possible future for people and planet. That means taking urgent action, particularly over the next eighteen months: To slash emissions; to protect people and nature from climate extremes; to boost climate finance, and to clamp down on the fossil fuel industry.”

He thanked young people, civil society, cities, regions, businesses and others who have been leading the charge towards a safer, cleaner world.

“You are on the right side of history. You speak for the majority. Keep it up.

Don’t lose courage. Don’t lose hope. It’s We the Peoples versus the polluters and the profiteers. Together, we can win. But it’s time for leaders to decide whose side they’re on. Tomorrow is too late. “

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