UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres / © AFP
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday accused oil and gas companies of making "excessive" profits from the energy crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine, calling it "immoral."
Guterres, releasing a UN report on the consequences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, urged governments to tax the companies' earnings.
"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 and at a massive cost to the climate," the UN chief told reporters.
"I urge all governments to tax these excessive profits and use the funds to support the most vulnerable people through these difficult times," Guterres said.
"And I urge people everywhere to send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry and their financiers that this grotesque greed is punishing the poorest and most vulnerable people, while destroying our only common home, the planet," he said.
Guterres said the combined profits of the largest energy companies in the first quarter of the year were nearly $100 billion.
With the rise in oil and gas prices, BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell also reported enormous profits in the second quarter.
The UN chief said that between now and the end of the year, 345 million people will be "acutely food insecure" or at "at a high risk of food insecurity" in 82 countries, an increase of 47 million due to the impact of the war in Ukraine.
Guterres warned that "many developing countries are drowning in debt, without access to finance, and struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and could go over the brink."
"We are already seeing the warning signs of a wave of economic, social and political upheaval that would leave no country untouched," he said.