The secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, lashed out at the oil and gas industry, accusing it of “grotesque greed” and calling for additional taxes on their profits.
Guterres noted that for the first quarter alone, the combined profits of the world’s largest oil and gas companies were ‘close to $100 billion” and urged all governments to tax these profits.
“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, at a massive cost to the climate,” Guterres told media, as quoted by Reuters.
“I urge all governments to tax these excessive profits, and use the funds to support the most vulnerable people through these difficult times,” he also said, adding “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 UN’s top official is a vocal critic of the oil and gas industry. Earlier this year, he said investing in new oil and gas production was “delusional,” and it would only have negative consequences.
“New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production infrastructure is delusional. It will only further feed the scourge of war, pollution and climate catastrophe,” Guterres said in June.
He has also spoken against coal investment, calling it “stupid” and saying that dependence on fossil fuels was madness.
“Had we invested massively in renewable energy in the past, we should not be so dramatically at the mercy of the instability of fossil fuel markets now,” he said in June.
Big Oil majors all reported massive profits both for the first and second quarters of the year, thanks to higher oil prices. This is not the first time prices have been this high, but it may be the first time majors are being this careful with new spending, which is ironic given Guterres’ remark about delusional oil and gas investments.