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Oxfam says taxing the rich

“Currently, those least responsible for this crisis are bearing the brunt of climate change’s impacts – facing poverty, hunger and increasingly scarce resources.


“At this week’s United Nations Climate Ambition Summit in New York, world leaders urgently need to adopt practical solutions to tackle the climate crisis. The options outlined in this report offer the opportunity to raise finance and reduce emissions equitably by targeting the richest polluters. The bold solutions needed for emissions.

“Fossil fuel companies and the wealthiest have contributed most to the irreversible damage to our planet that has been – and continues to be – caused by humans, and they can and should pay for it. Crucially, any fundraising The new funding should all protect low-income families from the impact of costs.

“There is money available to solve one of humanity’s biggest challenges – why on earth aren’t governments mobilizing that money? We need political leaders with the courage to ensure the biggest, richest polluters pay the price.”

Amid a cost-of-living crisis – with soaring energy bills and high inflation putting particular pressure on low-income households – oil and energy companies posted record profits in 2022. Despite the decline in earnings in the latest quarterly announcement – profits are still in the billions.

The paper calls on the government to stop using public finances to support fossil fuel producers operating in the North Sea and instead redirect this funding – estimated to be around £3.35bn by 2022 – towards a fossil fuel-free future.


Real reductions in fossil fuel production are needed to quickly lead the world towards the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, Shell announced its intention to grow its natural gas business, while BP weakened its commitment to reduce oil and gas production.

The paper calls on the government to scrap climate-damaging investment incentives linked to the current energy profits tax, which means producers can offset the tax they pay on investments in new oil and gas projects.

The report calculated that imposing a permanent excess profits tax on fossil fuel companies last year could have raised between £2.2 billion and £4.4 billion in additional revenue. It stressed that taxing the biggest polluters would not only generate additional funds but also provide incentives for them to reduce emissions.

Excluding wealth tax revenue, if all four options detailed in the document were in place by 2022, they could raise an additional £10.25 billion to £12.62 billion in just one year. This is more than double the amount of climate finance the UK has provided to developing countries in the six years to 2021.


“From devastating floods in Pakistan to wildfires in Greece to rising sea levels in the Pacific, it is now clear that some damage from climate change is inevitable,” said Walsh.

Despite the historic decision at COP27 last year to establish a loss and damage fund, the UK government has yet to provide any dedicated funding to address this issue. Instead, it continues to encourage new fossil fuel projects.

“The UK also urgently needs more funding to cut emissions in an equitable way and move towards a more sustainable economy, which will simultaneously improve people’s lives and reduce poverty and inequality. But funding lags far behind what is needed to achieve this level.

“Faster, fairer action to tackle the climate crisis and support for people already hit hard in the UK and around the world cannot be delayed any longer. This payment is long overdue.”

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Brendan Montagu is the author of Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Oxfam GB.

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