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U.N. chief blasts 'grotesque greed,' urges governments to tax record energy profits

U.N. chief blasts 'grotesque greed,' urges governments to tax record energy profits
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls oil and gas companies "immoral" for making record profits off the energy crisis and urges governments to tax windfall profits to help those in need. Photo by Gokhan Mert/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday slammed what he called the "grotesque greed" of oil and gas companies as he urged governments to tax record energy profits to help people in need.

"It is immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis on the backs of the poorest people and communities, at a massive cost to the climate," Guterres said Wednesday as he released the U.N.'s energy crisis report in New York. "I urge all governments to tax these excessive profits, and use the funds to support the most vulnerable people through these difficult times."

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Guterres called on governments to allocate part of those windfall taxes to speed the transition to renewable energy sources.

"Developing countries don't lack reasons to invest in renewables. Many are living with the severe impacts of the climate crisis including storms, floods and droughts," Guterres said. "What they lack are concrete, workable options."

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The U.N. chief said energy profits totaled $100 billion in the first quarter of this year. BP announced huge gains earlier this week and revealed it tripled its profits during the second quarter as oil prices spiked following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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"This grotesque greed is punishing the poorest and most vulnerable people while destroying our only home," Guterres said.

He blamed climate change and Russia's war in Ukraine for fueling the energy crisis, food supply issues and inflation.

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"Household budgets everywhere are feeling the pinch from high food, transport and energy prices, fueled by climate breakdown and war," Guterres said. "This threatens a starvation crisis for the poorest households, and severe cutbacks for those on average incomes."

Guterres announced the formation of the Global Crisis Response Group to coordinate worldwide solutions to the food, energy and finance crisis. The six leaders that make up the group are from Bangladesh, Barbados, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal.

"Many developing countries drowning in debt, without access to finance and struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic could go over the brink," Guterres said. "We are already seeing the warning signs of a wave of economic, social and political upheaval that would leave no country untouched."

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