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UN chief Guterres tells graduates not to work for ‘climate wrecker’ oil companies

“My message to you is simple: Don’t work for climate-wreckers,” the UN chief said

Saphora Smith
Climate Correspondent
Wednesday 25 May 2022 12:39 BST
UN chief tells graduates don't work 'for climate wreckers'

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told university graduates not to work for “climate wreckers” referring to companies that extract fossil fuels.

“You hold the cards,” he told graduates at Seton Hall University in New Jersey in the United States on Tuesday. “Your talent is in demand from multinational companies and big financial institutions. You will have plenty of opportunities to choose from.

“My message to you is simple: Don’t work for climate-wreckers. Use your talents to drive us towards a renewable future,” he added.

Mr Guterres told the graduates that their generation “must” be the one that succeeds in addressing the planetary emergency of climate change.

“Despite mountains of evidence of looming climate catastrophe, we still see mountains of funding for coal and fossil fuels that are killing our planet,” he told the graduating Class of 2022. “The money continues to flow from some of the biggest names in finance, hedge funds and private equity.”

But he warned that “accountability” was coming for those who “liquidate our future.”

Mr Guterres has been outspoken against the continued extraction of fossil fuels recently saying that investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is “moral and economic madness.”

Last year, the International Energy Agency warned that oil and gas exploration projects must stop from 2021 for the world to meet its climate targets.

In its Energy Security Strategy last month the British government said there would be new North Sea oil and gas licences.

Earlier this week a consultant who says she has worked with Shell for more than a decade has publicly quit, claiming the energy giant “disregards” the risks of climate change and ecological collapse.

Caroline Dennett said she could no longer work with a company she claims “ignores all the alarms.”

Ms Dennett said she decided to end her relationship with the oil giant after seeing an Extinction Rebellion protest outside Shell’s London headquarters last month, during which activists called on employees to jump ship and for insiders to get in contact with them. Ms Dennett said she decided to get in touch and the decision to quit followed thereafter.

A spokesperson for Shell said the company was determined to deliver on its plan to be a net zero company by 2050 and had set short, medium and long term targets to do so.

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