DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Greta Thunberg called on the global energy industry and its financiers to end all investment in fossil fuels on Thursday at a high-level meeting in Davos with the head of International Energy Agency (IEA).
During a roundtable discussion with Fatih Birol on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), activists said they had presented a “cease and desist” letter to CEOs calling for a halt to new oil production. gas and coal.
“As long as they can get away with it, they’re going to keep investing in fossil fuels, they’re going to keep throwing people under the bus,” Thunberg warned.
The oil and gas industry, which has been accused by campaigners of drowning out the climate change debate in the Swiss ski resort, has said it must be part of the energy transition as fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in the energy mix as the world is moving to a low-carbon economy.
Thunberg, who was detained by police in Germany earlier this week during a demonstration at a coal mine, joined fellow activists Helena Gualinga of Ecuador, Vanessa Nakate of Uganda and Luisa Neubauer of Germany to discuss tackling the big issues with Birol.
Birol, whose agency provides policy advice on energy, thanked the activists for meeting with him, but insisted that the transition must involve a mix of stakeholders, especially in the face of the global energy security crisis.
The IEA chief, who earlier on Thursday met with some of the biggest names in the oil and gas industry in Davos, said there was no reason to justify investment in new oil fields because of the energy crisis, saying that so far , in which they become operational the climate crisis would be worse.
He also said he was less pessimistic than climate activists about the transition to clean energy.
“We can have a little bit of legitimate optimism,” he said, adding: “Last year, the amount of renewables coming to market was at a record high.”
But he admitted that the transition was not happening fast enough and warned that emerging and developing countries risk being left behind if advanced economies do not support the transition.
The United Nations Climate Conference held in Egypt last year created a loss and damage fund to compensate countries most affected by climate change events.
Nakate, who staged a solitary protest outside Uganda’s parliament for several months in 2019, said the fund was “still an empty bucket without any money”.
“It needs real money for losses and damages.”
In 2019, Thunberg, then 16, attended the main WEF meeting, telling leaders that “our house is on fire.” She returned to Davos the following year.
But she declined to participate as an official delegate this year as the event reverted to its usual January period.
Asked why she didn’t want to advocate for change from within, Thunberg said there are already activists doing that.
“I think it should be people on the front lines, not privileged people like me,” she said. “I don’t think it’s very likely that the changes we need will come from within.” They are more likely to come from the bottom up.”
The activists later walked together through the snow-covered streets of Davos, where many of the shops were temporarily turned into “pavilions” sponsored by companies or countries.
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Written by Leela de Kretser; Editing by Alexander Smith
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