‘No New Investment in Fossil Fuel Expansion’: UN Chief

‘No New Investment in Fossil Fuel Expansion’: UN Chief
Donnie Claycomb at Harvey Mine in Pennsylvania, on April 13, 2017. The Harvey Mine is part of the largest underground mining complex in the United States. (Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
Nathan Worcester

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has asserted there must be “no new investment in fossil fuel expansion” and that private finance must totally divest from coal.

“For too long, the financial services sector has enabled the world's fossil fuel addiction," said Guterres, a former president of Socialist International, an association of national socialist parties that advocates a democratic form of socialism. "It is now time for financial service providers to accelerate the shift to renewables. They have the power—and the responsibility.

"The scientific and moral imperative is clear: There must be no new investment in fossil fuel expansion, including production, infrastructure, and exploration.

"This year, all private financiers need to stop funding the entire coal sector, from mining to power generation, and actively shift finance to renewables.”

Guterres's comments were prompted by a May 9 statement from the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Muslim Council of Elders, the New York Board of Rabbis, and bodies within the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).

In their climate-responsible finance announcement, those parties asked the financial institutions that service them to halt funding for exploration and production of oil and gas after 2022, “especially all such projects in the Arctic region.”

They also demanded that those partners “[end] all financing towards any new oil and gas projects, exploration and extraction ...” and rapidly phase out all financing for the coal sector.

In addition, they asked them to join U.N.-led financial groups such as the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, “if they are not yet part of them.”

Banks in that alliance control roughly 40 percent of global banking assets.

The groups’ demands come after a year of rapidly increasing coal, oil, and natural gas prices.

In the face of those trends, some countries have reversed course on fossil fuels, including coal. India, for instance, intends to resume mining at more than 100 shuttered coal mines, Reuters has reported. Many European countries have also moved to reactivate coal plants or avoid reducing reliance on the energy source.

In the United States, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts coal consumption will continue to increase during 2022 before falling in 2023, based on an expected drop in natural gas prices.

As prices have shifted, some lawmakers have shifted their message to fossil fuel companies.

During a late 2021 hearing, Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) condemned U.S. energy companies for not cutting oil and gas production, in line with actions by some European firms.

“Are you embarrassed as an American company that your production is going up while the European counterparts are going down?” Khanna asked Chevron Corp. CEO and Chairman Michael Wirth.

“It is incredibly important that we don’t reach net-zero in some imaginary future, but that we actually cut through to carbon emissions reductions here in the United States and globally,” Ocasio-Cortez said after questioning ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods.

Last month, however, Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) told oil executives that their high profits “are coming at the expense of the American people, who need you to dramatically increase production, not shareholder wealth.”

The WCC, one signatory of the “climate-responsible finance” statement, has been noted for its ties to violent left-wing political organizations, particularly during the Cold War. In 1978, for example, it provided $85,000 to Zimbabwe’s Patriotic Front, a guerrilla organization led by Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe, who described himself as a Marxist–Leninist during that period, went on to become the president of Zimbabwe, where he presided over hyperinflation, the expropriation of land from white farmers, and the Gukurahundi genocide of the Ndebele tribe.

The WCC also signaled its support for the Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua throughout the early 1980s, even as the Sandinistas systematically persecuted Christians who didn't support their revolution.

“Despite a spate of arrests of Catholic priests and Moravian Church ministers, a WCC team in 1981 could find ‘no recognizable persecution of the church’ in Nicaragua,” Ernest Lefever wrote in a 1988 edition of The National Interest.

Today, the WCC is well represented at the World Economic Forum. In 2018, its then-general secretary, Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, delivered a speech against nuclear weapons at WEF. Its director of international affairs, Peter Prove, serves on WEF’s Global Agenda Council on the role of faith.

Tim Stewart, president of the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, voiced strong opposition to Guterres’s remarks as well as the WCC's stance on hydrocarbons.

“With all due respect to Secretary Guterres and the World Council of Churches, the shared moral imperative based on the scriptures of all faiths should be to ‘to lift up the hands which hang down.’ People from all faiths have been commanded by God to lift the poor and oppressed out of poverty,” Stewart said.

“This proposed UN action does the complete opposite. Restricting access to fossil fuel energy by restricting investment will ensure the poorest of the poor remain in energy poverty for another generation and a generation beyond that.

“By clothing themselves in the robes of the false priesthood of climate change, the UN has unwittingly taken on the role of oppressor of the poor whether it intended to or not.”

Representatives of the WCC and the U.N. didn't respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Nathan Worcester covers national politics for The Epoch Times and has also focused on energy and the environment. Nathan has written about everything from fusion energy and ESG to Biden's classified documents and international conservative politics. He lives and works in Chicago. Nathan can be reached at nathan.worcester@epochtimes.us.