Davos turns up heat on big oil as Thunberg slams climate inaction

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a session at the Congres center during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 21, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Davos turns up heat on big oil as Thunberg slams climate inaction

  • The teenage activist went head to head with the septuagenarian US president who dismissed climate prophets of doom in his speech
  • She in turn brushed off the US president’s pledge to join the economic forum’s initiative to plant 1 trillion trees to help capture carbon dioxide

LONDON: Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg slammed inaction over climate change as the global oil industry found itself under intense scrutiny on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The teenage activist went head to head with the septuagenarian US president who dismissed climate “prophets of doom” in his speech.
She in turn brushed off the US president’s pledge to join the economic forum’s initiative to plant 1 trillion trees to help capture carbon dioxide.
“Planting trees is good of course but it’s nowhere near enough,” Thunberg said. “It cannot replace mitigation. We need to start listening to the science, and treat this crisis with the importance it deserves,” said the 17-year-old,
The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum was dominated by the global threat posed by climate change and the carbon economy.
The environmental focus of Davos 2020 caps a year when carbon emissions from fossil fuels hit a record high and the devastating effects of bushfires in Australia and other climate disasters dominated the news.
Oil company executives from the Gulf and elsewhere are in the spotlight at this year’s Davos meeting as they come under increased pressure to demonstrate how they are reducing their carbon footprint.
“We are not only fighting for our industry’s life but fighting for people to understand the things that we are doing, said Vicki Hollub, the CEO of Occidental, the US-based oil giant with extensive oil operations in the Gulf. “As an industry when we could be different — we will be different.”
She said the company was getting close to being able to sequester significant volumes of CO2 in the US Permian Basin, the heartland of the American shale oil industry which is increasingly in competition with the conventional oil producers of the Arabian Gulf.
“The Permian Basin has the capacity to store 150 gigatons of CO2. That would be 28 years of emissions in the US. That’s the prize for us and that’s the opportunity. People say if you’re sequestering in an oil reservoir then you are producing more oil, but the reality is that it takes more CO2 to inject into a reservoir than the barrel of oil that it makes come out.”
She said the challenge Occidental and other oil companies face is to make investors understand what is happening in this area of carbon sequesteration.
The investment community at Davos is also looking hard at the oil industry in the face of mounting investor concerns.
Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal. It accused some of these groups of failing to live up to the World Economic Forum goal of “improving the state of the world.”


Five dead, three missing after Jakarta floods

Updated 26 February 2020

Five dead, three missing after Jakarta floods

  • The muddy deluge inundated the presidential palace, a major hospital and entire neighborhoods across Jakarta on Tuesday
  • Floodwaters reached more than a meter (three feet) in some parts of the capital but were receding by Wednesday

JAKARTA: Five people were killed, three more are missing and thousands are unable to return to their waterlogged homes after floods submerged parts of Indonesia’s capital, officials said Wednesday.

The muddy deluge inundated the presidential palace, a major hospital and entire neighborhoods across Jakarta on Tuesday, only weeks after 70 residents of the low-lying megacity died in some of the deadliest flooding in memory.

Two teenagers were among the five people drowned or electrocuted in hard-hit parts of the city, Indonesia’s national disaster agency said.

“The joint rescue team is still searching” for three other possible victims, agency spokesman Agus Wibowo told AFP, adding that nearly 20,000 people were staying in emergency shelters.

Floodwaters reached more than a meter (three feet) in some parts of the capital but were receding by Wednesday, a day after rescuers combed drenched districts in pontoon boats to locate vulnerable residents.

Parts of the city had ground to a halt as thousands of buildings were swamped, sparking power outages and disrupting commuter trains.

Jakarta, a sprawling city beleaguered by massive traffic jams and poor infrastructure, is prone to flooding during the annual wet season.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo last year unveiled plans to relocate the capital to an as yet unbuilt city on Borneo island.