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UN chief attacks ‘immoral’ oil companies and claims they are punishing the poor

The United Nations chief has accused oil and gas companies of “grotesque greed” and called on every government to levy a windfall tax on their record “immoral” profits.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said money made “on the backs of the poorest” must be returned to the most vulnerable households, just days after BP and Shell reported massive gains in the wake of the Ukraine crisis .

The UK, Italy and Spain have all pushed through unexpected taxes on oil and gas companies despite warning they will hurt investments vital to energy security. However, Mr Guterres urged all governments to follow suit after oil and gas prices skyrocketed from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He claimed that energy companies and their financiers – which typically include retail investors and pension funds – are “punishing the poorest” and “destroying our only common home.”

He tweeted: “It is immoral that oil and gas companies are making record-breaking profits from the current energy crisis on the backs of the poorest, at a massive cost to the climate.

“I call on all governments to tax these excessive profits and use the funds to support those most at risk.”

The secretary-general, a socialist former prime minister of Portugal, has repeatedly used his post to highlight the global gap between rich and poor. Last year he hit “Billionaires [who] joyride into space while millions starve,” and in 2020 he asserted that “inequality defines our times.”

Rising energy prices pushed BP’s second-quarter earnings to a 14-year high on Tuesday, while Shell reported record earnings last week.

Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, announced in May a 25 percent windfall tax on oil and gas company profits. He expected it to bring in £5billion in its first year.

Many North Sea oil producers were staunchly opposed to a tax crackdown ahead of the announcement, warning it would discourage investment in new supplies.

Reacting to BP’s findings this week, Will Webster, energy policy manager at trade group Offshore Energies UK, said: “The surge in oil and gas company profits is due to global price increases which have been followed by the UK Industry has no significant influence.

“However, quarterly and annual results only give you a snapshot of what’s happened over the past few months and therefore don’t tell you much about longer-term trends.

“It is worth remembering that prices have been volatile in recent years and producers have also experienced periods of low yields and losses.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/08/03/un-chief-attacks-immoral-oil-companies-claims-punishing-poor/ UN chief attacks ‘immoral’ oil companies and claims they are punishing the poor

Russell Falcon

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