DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Big oil companies came under pressure at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) from activists who accused them of hijacking the climate debate, while a campaign “cease and desist” sponsored by Greta Thunberg has gained support on social media.
Major energy companies, including BP (BP.L)chevron (CVX.N) and Saudi Aramco (2222.SE) are among 1,500 business leaders gathered for the annual meeting in the Swiss resort town of Davos, where global threats including climate change are high on the agenda.
“We demand concrete and real climate action,” said Nicolas Siegrist, the 26-year-old protest organizer who also leads the Young Socialists party in Switzerland.
The annual meeting of global business and political leaders opens Monday in Davos.
“They will be in the same room as heads of state and they will defend their interests,” Siegrist said of the involvement of energy companies at a protest attended by several hundred people on Sunday.
The oil and gas industry has said it needs to be part of the energy transition because fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in the global energy mix as countries transition to low-carbon economies.
On Monday, a social media campaign added to the pressure on oil and gas companies, promoting a “cease and desist” advisory sponsored by climate activists Thunberg, Vanessa Nakate and Luisa Neubauer, via the nonprofit Avaaz website.
He asks the CEOs of energy companies to “immediately stop opening new oil, gas or coal extraction sites and block the transition to clean energy that we all urgently need”, and threatens legal action and further protests if they do not comply.
The campaign, which had been signed by more than 660,000 people, had nearly 200,000 shares as of Monday morning.
Sumant Sinha, who runs one of India’s largest renewable energy companies, said it would be good to include big oil companies in the transition debate because they have a vital role to play.
“If the tankers are part of these conversations to the extent that they are also committed to change, then by all means. Better to get them in the tent than to have them outside the tent,” said said Sinha, president and CEO of ReNew Power. , told Reuters, saying the inclusion should not lead to “sabotage”.
Rising interest rates have made it harder for renewable energy developments to attract financing, giving deep-pocketed traditional players a competitive advantage.
As delegates began to arrive in Davos, Debt for Climate activists demonstrated at a private airport in eastern Switzerland, which they say is being used by some WEF attendees, and issued a statement calling for the cancellation of the external debts of the poorest countries in order to accelerate the global energy transition.
Additional reporting by Kathryn Lurie; Editing by Alexander Smith and Alex Richardson
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