Home » UN Chief Calls For Global Ban on Fossil Fuel Ads

UN Chief Calls For Global Ban on Fossil Fuel Ads

by Madaline Dunn
Secretary-General António Guterres

Against a backdrop of 12 consecutive months of record-high temperatures, in a speech on World Environment Day, UN Chief António Guterres called for a ban on fossil fuel ads.

The speech came on the same day that the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) reported that there is now an 80 per cent chance the world will exceed the 1.5-degree limit in at least one of the next five years.

The UN Secretary-General noted that in 2015, the chance of breaching net zero was “near zero.” Fast-forward to 2024, and there is a 50-50 chance that the average temperature for the entire next five-year period will be 1.5 degrees higher than pre-industrial times.

“We are playing Russian roulette with our planet. We need an exit ramp off the highway to climate hell,” said Guterres.

Yet climate hell is what many vulnerable countries and communities are currently facing, from extreme heat scorching the Sahel to the devastating floods across Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sudan and beyond.

All the while, Guterres said the fossil fuel industry, the “Godfathers of climate chaos”, continues to rake in record profits and “feast off trillions in taxpayer-funded subsidies.”

However, “we have control of the wheel,” the UN Chief said, calling for an effective price on carbon and tax on the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies.

Likewise, he called to “directly confront” those in the fossil fuel industry who have shown what he called “relentless zeal for obstructing progress” over decades.

Guterres noted that “billions” have been thrown at “distorting the truth, deceiving the public, and sowing doubt.”

Indeed, this was recently evidenced in a report from US Democrats, which revealed that Big Oil willingly misled the public about climate change and downplayed the climate crisis and their responsibility for it.

“Last year, the oil and gas industry invested a measly 2.5 per cent of its total capital spending on clean energy,” said Guterres.

Adding: “So, to fossil fuel executives, I say: your massive profits give you the chance to lead the energy transition. Don’t miss it.”

Likewise, the UN boss called for financial institutions to “stop bankrolling fossil fuel destruction” and, instead, start investing in a global renewables revolution.

Indeed, the fifteenth annual Banking on Climate Chaos study found that, since the Paris Agreement, banks have provided fossil fuel firms with nearly a staggering $7 trillion.

However, alongside financial institutions, Guterres called out advertising and PR companies for “[aiding and abetting]” fossil fuel companies.

Not only did he call for these companies to drop fossil fuel clients and stop taking on new ones, but he also urged every country to ban fossil fuel ads.

In contrast, the UN chief spotlighted “booming” renewables and their plummeting costs.

However, just this week, an International Energy Agency (IEA) report found that the world is falling behind on the COP28 pledge to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030.  

The report outlined that, even if all countries were to fully implement their current ambitions, the world would still fall 30 per cent short.  

Indeed, there is huge variation in both ambition levels and deployment worldwide, and in his speech, Guterres pointed to Africa, which was home to less than one per cent of last year’s renewables installations.

“No country can solve the climate crisis in isolation. This is an all-in moment,” said Guterres, urging action.

“It’s time for leaders to decide whose side they’re on. Tomorrow it will be too late.”

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