UN Chief Declares Fossil-Fuel Companies “Godfathers of Climate Chaos,” Urges Global Advertising Ban

In a stunning speech at the American Museum of Natural History, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a global ban on fossil-fuel advertising, comparing the industry’s influence on climate change to the hazards of tobacco. Guterres asked news and technology outlets to stop accepting fossil-fuel advertising revenue and denounced the industry’s participation in “planetary destruction.”

Guterres, citing fresh statistics from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), warned that there is an 80% probability the globe would exceed the vital 1.5°C warming threshold above pre-industrial levels within the next five years. This worrying estimate highlights the critical need for significant carbon emission reductions to reach the 2015 Paris Agreement targets.

Guterres emphasised the moral and practical urgency for governments to step up efforts to tackle climate change. He chastised fossil-fuel businesses for making insufficient investments in clean energy and spreading misconceptions about climate science. He urged governments to identify the fossil-fuel business as pariahs and to end taxpayer-funded subsidies that allow these companies to earn record profits.

“The godfathers of climate chaos – the fossil-fuel industry – rake in record profits and feast off trillions in taxpayer-funded subsidies,” said Guterres. “It is a disgrace that the most vulnerable are being left stranded, struggling desperately to deal with a climate crisis they did nothing to create.”

The UN secretary-general’s statement comes at a key point, with upcoming G7 and G20 summits, as well as the COP29 climate summit, scheduled for later this year. These conferences will be critical in shaping the world’s response to the increasing climate problem.

Guterres issued a stinging rebuke to the fossil-fuel industry, urging public relations and media firms to cut links with oil, gas and coal industries. “Stop taking on new fossil-fuel clients today and make steps to drop your existing ones. Fossil fuels are harmful not only to the environment, but also to your brand.”

Despite the dire warnings, Guterres emphasised the rapid expansion of renewable energy investments and the opportunity for economic rationality to finally phase out fossil fuels. However, he emphasised the importance of accelerated government action to secure a sustainable future.

“The problem is now urgent, and we can’t say we’ll do something about it later; we need to act now,” said Andrea Dutton, a climate scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The global community must respond to this urgent plea in order to avoid the most destructive effects of climate change and ensure a livable Earth for future generations.