Dambisa Moyo: Defunding oil companies is a 'naive' way to address climate change

Brian Cheung

Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo says energy companies are the key to solving climate change problems, adding that it is “infuriating” to see fossil fuel companies under criticism.

Moyo, a board member of Chevron Corporation (CVX), told Yahoo Finance that companies like Chevron are working on alternative energy sources like biofuels, water, and solar power.

“We have to rely on these companies because they are at the tip of the spear in terms of knowledge and expertise to help us find the answers,” Moyo said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“I think it's very shortsighted and actually, dare I say it, naive for people to be campaigning for defunding these institutions that actually are really very knowledgeable around where we can potentially find solutions to the climate change crisis.”

Moyo’s comments underscore the ongoing debate at Davos over corporate responsibility in addressing climate change. Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish activist, kicked off the World Economic Forum meeting on Tuesday with a speech demanding that companies stop investments in fossil fuel extraction and divest from fossil fuels entirely.

Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg attends a session at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

“It may seem like we’re asking for a lot. And you will of course say that we are naive,” Thunberg said. “But this is just the very minimum amount of effort that is needed to start the rapid sustainable transition.”

Moyo acknowledged the environment as a structural problem facing the global economy, but said it would be “damning” to turn off current energy sources in developing nations that currently lack the infrastructure for reliable electricity.

“I know for a fact how challenged and how focused [Chevron] is in trying to find alternatives,” Moyo said. “We’re invested across the stack.”

Moyo is also a board member of Barclays Bank and previously served on the boards of SABMiller and Seagate Technology (STX). She also previously served on the board of Barrick Gold Corporation (GOLD), where she worked on the committee overseeing environmental matters.

Brian Cheung is a reporter covering the banking industry and the intersection of finance and policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter @bcheungz.

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