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Davos 2023: Big Oil in the crossfire of climate activists’ protests

DAVOS, Switzerland (January 16) (Reuters) – Oil majors came under pressure at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) from campaigners accusing them of hijacking the climate debate, while Greta Thunberg’s “cease and desist” campaign was blaming them. He got support on social media.

Major energy companies including BP (BP.L)chevron (CVX.N) and Saudi Aramco (2222.SE) They are among 1,500 business leaders who gather for the annual meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos, where global threats including climate change are on the agenda.

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

The annual meeting of global business and political leaders begins in Davos on Monday.

“They will be in the same room with the country’s leaders and will push for their interests,” Siegrist said of the energy companies’ participation during a demonstration attended by several hundred people on Sunday.

The oil and gas industry has said it needs to be part of the energy transition as fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in the global energy mix as countries transition to low carbon economies.

And a social media campaign on Monday increased the pressure on oil and gas companies, by promoting a “cease and desist” notice sponsored by climate activists Thunberg, Vanessa Nakate and Louisa Neubauer, through the nonprofit site Avaaz.

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It demands the energy company’s CEOs “immediately stop opening any new oil, gas or coal extraction sites, and stop blocking the clean energy transition we all so urgently need,” threatening legal action and more protests if they fail to comply.

The campaign, which has been signed by more than 660,000 people, had nearly 200,000 shares on Monday morning.

Sumant Sinha, who heads one of India’s largest renewable energy companies, said it would be good to include the oil majors in the transition discussion because they have a vital role to play.

“If the oil workers are part of these conversations to the extent that they also commit to change, then by all means. It’s better to get them inside the tent than outside the tent,” said Sinha, Chairman and CEO of ReNew Power. He told Reuters the implication should not lead to “sabotage”.

Rising interest rates have made it more difficult to attract renewable energy projects to financing, giving traditional players with deep pockets a competitive advantage.

As delegates began arriving in Davos, climate debt activists protested at a private airport in eastern Switzerland that they said would be used by some WEF attendees, and issued a statement calling for the cancellation of foreign debt for poorer countries in order to expedite the return of debt. Global energy transition.

Additional reporting by Catherine Lowry. Editing by Alexander Smith and Alex Richardson

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