UN chief criticizes ‘bizarre greed’ of oil and gas companies

The UN chief has sharply criticized the “bizarre greed” of oil and gas companies to turn 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 “unethical” that the largest energy companies made a combined profit of around $100 billion (£82 billion) in the first quarter of the year.

He urged all governments to tax these “excessive” profits and use the money to support the most vulnerable through these difficult times.

Mr Guterres urged people everywhere to send a message to the fossil fuel industry and its financiers that “this strange greed is punishing the poorest and most vulnerable, while destroying our only common home, the planet”. .

Nothing would be more popular than taxing exorbitant profits… and distributing that money to the most vulnerable families.Antonio Guterres, UN

The Secretary-General spoke at a press conference while launching a report of the Global Crisis Response Group, which he set up to tackle the triple interconnected crises of food, energy and finance, particularly those in recovery and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. affected countries. The devastating effect of the war in Ukraine.

Mr Guterres told reporters that “we are looking at the oil and gas industry’s exorbitant, scandalous profits in an instant, with all of us losing money” due to inflation of around 7-8%.

And “nothing would be more popular than taxing excessive profits … and distributing that money to the most vulnerable families”, he said.

The crisis group has already submitted recommendations on food and finance and Mr Guterres said he believed “we are making some progress” in those areas, particularly on food.

The report focused on the energy crisis, and the Secretary-General said it aimed to achieve a grain deal comparable to what he had previously proposed to Russian and Ukrainian presidents to allow Ukrainian grain to be shipped from Russian-blocked ports on the Black Sea. World market in dire need of food supply.

The first ship to leave Ukraine left for Lebanon on Wednesday after a three-hour inspection in Turkish waters.

Mr Guterres said speculators and barriers to getting grain and fertilizer into global markets during the Ukraine war drove up food prices.

But negotiations on the grain deal have since “gained traction”, he said, “a significant drop” and today prices of most foods and fertilizers are more or less at pre-war prices.

“But that doesn’t mean that bread in bakeries is at the same price as before the war, because these are quotes in wholesale markets, some of them related to futures,” he said, and many other factors contributing to transportation and Rising prices, including insurance costs and supply chain disruptions.

United Nations trade chief Rebecca Grinspan, who coordinated the crisis group, said while wheat prices are down about 50% from their peak, corn and fertilizer prices have fallen about 25% last month and crude oil prices are down more than they are now. Around $93 a barrel. With $120 a barrel in June.

“Only natural gas has bucked the trend and is still higher than a month ago,” she told reporters by video from Geneva.

Falling prices are “good news”, Grinspan said, but they have been high for a very long time and since June the forecast for extreme poverty has increased by 71 million people and food insecurity by 47 million.

In another major recommendation, the crisis group urges wealthy developed countries, in particular, to conserve energy, including reducing the use of air conditioning and heating, and promoting public transport “and nature-based solutions”.

Mr Guterres said new technologies “should become a public good”, including storage of batteries, and governments should enhance and diversify supply chains for raw materials and renewable energy technologies.

The group also recommends increasing private and multilateral finance for the “green energy transition”.

Today, developing countries are spending about $150 billion on clean energy. They need to spend a trillion dollars in investmentsRebecca Grinspan, UN

And it met the International Energy Agency’s goal of increasing investment in renewable energy by a factor of seven to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050 to help curb man-made climate change. supported.

“Today, developing countries are spending about $150 billion on clean energy,” said Grinspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

“They need to spend a trillion dollars in investments.”