Davos 2023: Big oil in view of climate activists’ protests

Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 16 (Reuters) – At the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF), big oil companies came under pressure from activists who accused them of hijacking the climate debate, while a “cease and desist” campaign sponsored by Greta Thunberg. There was support on social media.

Major energy companies including BP (PBL)Chevron (CVX.N) and Saudi Aramco (2222.SE) 1,500 business leaders gathered in the Swiss resort of Davos for an annual meeting with global threats including climate change on the agenda.

“We demand concrete and real climate action,” said Nicolas Siegrist, a 26-year-old organizer of the protest who heads the Young Socialist Party in Switzerland.

The annual meeting of world trade and political leaders begins Monday in Davos.

“They’re going to be in the same room with state leaders and they’re going to push for their interests,” Siegrist said of the energy companies’ involvement during Sunday’s demonstration, which drew several hundred people.

As countries transition to low-carbon economies, and fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in the world’s energy mix, the oil and gas industry has said it needs to be part of the energy transition.

On Monday, a social media campaign by climate activists Thunberg, Vanessa Nakate and Luisa Neubauer stepped up pressure on oil and gas companies by promoting a “cease and desist” announcement through the non-profit website Avaaz.

It demands CEOs of energy companies “immediately stop opening new oil, gas or coal extraction sites and stop blocking the clean energy transition we all so urgently need,” and threatens legal action and further protests if they fail to comply.

The campaign, signed by more than 660,000 people, had nearly 200,000 shares as of Monday morning.

Sumant Sinha, one of India’s largest renewable energy companies, said it would be good to include the big oil companies in the transition discussion because they have an important role to play.

“If oil people are part of these conversations, they too ensure change in every way. It is better to bring them inside the tent than keep them outside,” said Sinha, chairman and CEO of Renew Power. , told Reuters that inclusion should not lead to “sabotage”.

Rising interest rates have made it difficult to attract financing for renewable energy developments, giving traditional players a competitive advantage.

As delegates began arriving in Davos, climate activists staged a protest at a private airport in eastern Switzerland that they said would be used by some WEF participants, and issued a statement calling for the cancellation of poor countries’ foreign debt to accelerate. Global energy transition.

Additional reporting by Kathryn Lurie; Editing by Alexander Smith and Alex Richardson

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