He may have built his political dynasty on the back of Venezuela’s petroleum wealth, but President Hugo Chavez has suddenly urged the world to cut back on oil use to fight climate change.

He wants to use some oil revenues in a venture to manufacture solar panels and has begun doling out millions of energy-saving fluorescent lightbulbs to homes nationwide.

“Venezuela is one of the countries that least contaminates the environment, but, nevertheless, we want to give an example and be at the vanguard,” Chavez has said.

But critics say Chavez’s campaign is mostly rhetoric, noting that this is a country where government subsidies have gasoline prices at 12 cents a gallon, car sales are booming and vehicle exhaust chokes litter-strewn streets.

Chavez turned on his old enemy the US. “They’re destroying the world,” Chavez said, citing melting glaciers in the Andes and predictions of rising sea levels. “The human race will be finished if we don’t change the world capitalist system.”

Well there’s pause for thought..