Former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland has said the oil industry is “undermining” the fight against climate change.

Ms Brundtland, chairwoman of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), said progress towards a greener future has been hindered by the oil industry.

The 80-year-old, speaking at the One Young World conference, said action on the recommendations for sustainable development made in a 1987 report by the WCED have been held back by oil magnates.

The report, Our Common Future, advocated countries establishing international environmental standards to combat climate change.

Speaking to One Young World, Ms Brundtland said: “When you go back to the World Commission report from 1987, when we made an analysis about all the challenges that we were already seeing coming, some people sometimes ask me, ‘Why have things been so slow?’

“I want to try and give an optimistic view on the whole situation. The world has come together, like in Rio, five years after our report, making the climate convention. But the implementation and follow-up has not been as great as it should have been.

“There are a number of things the world has been able to agree on. The minus is the implementation. It’s too slow – too much strong interest from the oil lobby.

“The oil industry has been working across the world for years to undermine [these decisions].”

BP chief executive Bob Dudley, speaking at the same conference on Wednesday, said tackling climate change is not the sole responsibility of big business.

Ms Brundtland, who is also deputy chairwoman of The Elders, spoke about the fight against climate change with chairwoman Mary Robinson.

The Elders is an independent group of globally recognised peace activists and statesmen working for human rights.

It was created by Nelson Mandela in 2007.

Ms Robinson, who was formerly president of Ireland, said movements such as the Extinction Rebellion climate change protests give her “a lot of hope”, and discussed solutions to the climate crisis.

The Elders chairwoman said: “Carbon emissions went up last year and they will definitely be going up this year – this needs to be resolved.

“Climate change is a man-made problem which requires a feminist solution.

Man-made is a generic term, and a feminist solution includes men too.”

Ms Robinson, 75, added: “We have to change our lifestyle – slow food, slow fashion, a circular economy. All of these things are exciting for young people – I almost wish I was young again, with all these opportunities.

“The gap of time is so short, you have to take your full time and full responsibility.”

The Irish Independent politician said US President Donald Trump and the small membership of the UN Security Council (UNSC) is holding back progress towards a greener future.

Ms Robinson said: “I think the real weakness of what we call the United Nations is the Security Council.

“There should be other countries who are members.

“That is a real issue.”

She added: “We have the G20, but the G20 has never had that power. One of the weaknesses, frankly, is the Trump administration – you have a G19 plus one.
“It’s a bad time for leadership but good governments could be part of that alliance, going forwards.”

Ms Brundtland added the “big powers are not going to budge” on the issue of UNSC membership, and instead encouraged “people power” on the streets.

The Norwegian politician, who was formerly the UN special envoy on climate change and director of the World Health Organisation, said: “Frankly, I think the people power today, which [One Young World] is an example of, can raise issues, can make a difference.

“In the 80s, people rose up against nuclear weapons. Gorbachev and Reagan were pushed by people power – and agreements for the world were made.

“And now there has been complacency about the nuclear issue.

“We need to bring up issues which are burning issues, just like the climate crisis.”

Ms Brundtland served three terms as prime minister of Norway in the 80s and 90s and supported Norwegian membership of the EU during the 1994 referendum.

She and Ms Robinson were both the first female leaders of their respective nations.

One Young World, where they spoke at an event hosted by Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow, is a four-day conference connecting young leaders from more than 190 countries with global business and political leaders.

The event, which is being held in Westminster, central London, yesterday also welcomed as guests Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Virgin magnate Sir Richard Branson.