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Davos 2023: Greta Thunberg accuses energy companies of throwing people ‘under the bus’

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Greta Thunberg on Thursday called on the global energy industry and its financiers to end all fossil fuel investment during a high-level meeting in Davos with the chief of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

During a panel discussion with Fatih Birol on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, activists said they presented a ‘cease and desist’ letter to CEOs calling for a halt to new oil mining. oil, gas and coal.

“As long as they can get away with it, they’ll keep investing in fossil fuels, they’ll keep throwing people under the bus,” Thunberg warned.

The oil and gas industry, accused by activists of hijacking the climate change debate in the Swiss ski resort, says it must be part of the energy transition as fossil fuels will continue to play a role major in the energy mix. as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy.

Thunberg, who was arrested by police in Germany earlier this week during a protest at a coal mine, joined fellow activists Helena Gualinga from Ecuador, Vanessa Nakate from Uganda and Luisa Neubauer from Germany to discuss resolving major issues with Birol.

Birol, whose agency makes policy recommendations on energy, thanked campaigners for meeting him, but insisted the transition needed to include a mix of actors, especially in the face of the global crisis of energy security.

The IEA chief, who met some of the biggest names in the oil and gas industry in Davos earlier on Thursday, said there was no reason to justify investments in new oilfields due of the energy crisis, saying that by the time these become operational, the climate crisis will be worse.

He also said he was less pessimistic than climate activists about the switch to clean energy.

“We can have a slight legitimate optimism,” he said, adding: “Last year, the amount of renewable energy coming to market hit an all-time high.”

But he admitted the transition was not moving fast enough and warned that emerging and developing countries risked being left behind if advanced economies did not support the transition.

Young climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a discussion on ‘Treating the climate crisis as a crisis’ with International Energy Agency chief Fatih Birol (not pictured) on the sidelines of the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF ) in Davos, Switzerland on January 19, 2023. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

‘REAL MONEY’

The United Nations climate conference, held in Egypt last year, established a loss and damage fund to compensate countries most affected by climate change events.

Nakate, who staged a lone protest outside Uganda’s parliament for several months in 2019, said the fund “is still an empty bucket with no money at all”.

“There is a need for 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 returned to its usual January slot.

When asked why she didn’t want to advocate for change from within, Thunberg said there were already activists doing that.

“I think it should be people on the front lines and not privileged people like me,” she said. “I don’t think the changes we need are very likely to come from within. They are more likely to come from below.”

Activists then marched together through the snow-covered streets of Davos, where many shops were temporarily turned into corporate or country-sponsored “pavilions”.

For daily updates from Davos to your inbox, sign up for the Reuters Daily Briefing here.

Written by Leela de Kretser; Editing by Alexander Smith

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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