Davos 2023: Climate activists protest over big oil hijacking debate

Over 1,500 business leaders are gathering for the annual meeting in the Swiss resort, where global threats including climate change are on the agenda

Updated - January 16, 2023 07:23 am IST

Published - January 16, 2023 02:28 am IST - New Delhi

Climate activists protest in front of a showroom that hosts BlackRock, ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2023, in the Alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland, on January 15, 2023.

Climate activists protest in front of a showroom that hosts BlackRock, ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2023, in the Alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland, on January 15, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Climate activists protested in Davos on Sunday against the role of big oil firms at this week's World Economic Forum (WEF), saying they were hijacking the climate debate.

Major energy firms including BP, Chevron and Saudi Aramco are among the 1,500 business leaders gathering for the annual meeting in the Swiss resort, where global threats including climate change are on the agenda.

"We are demanding concrete and real climate action," said Nicolas Siegrist, the 26-year old organiser of the protest who also heads the Young Socialists party in Switzerland.

The annual meeting of global business and political leaders officially opens in Davos on Monday.

"They will be in the same room with state leaders and they will push for their interests," Siegrist said of the involvement of energy companies at the WEF meeting.

The oil and gas industry has said that it needs to be part of the energy transition as fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in the world's energy mix as countries shift to low carbon economies.

More than a hundred protesters gathered in a snowy Davos square chanted, "change your diet for the climate, eat the rich", while some booed oil firms cited during a speech.

"I know some of the companies are involved in alternatives but I think governments with their subsidies, have to skew the field in favour of alternative energy," Heather Smith, a member of the 99% organisation.

Smith was holding a sign saying "Stop Rosebank", a North Sea oil and gas field she is campaigning to halt plans for.

Rising interest rates have made it harder for renewable energy developments to attract financing, giving traditional players with deep pockets a competitive advantage.

"There is still too much money to be made from fossil fuel investments," she added.

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