Climate Polluters Should Pay a Tax for Damages, U.N. Chief Says

The firms most guilty for world warming ought to be taxed to assist pay for the harm they’ve finished to the planet, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres stated Tuesday through the opening session of the annual U.N. General Assembly.

In a pointed speech to world leaders, the U.N. chief delivered scathing criticism of the fossil gas business and emphasised the necessity for funds to cowl the price of irreparable local weather damages.

“The climate crisis is a case study in moral and economic injustice,” Guterres stated. He famous that the world’s 20 largest economies account for 80 p.c of world greenhouse gasoline emissions. Yet nations which have contributed nearly nothing to local weather change typically face the direst penalties.

“The fossil fuel industry is feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while household budgets shrink and our planet burns,” Guterres added.

Fossil gas firms weren’t his solely goal. Guterres additionally referred to as out the banks and monetary establishments that assist the business and the “massive public relations machine” that makes cash by defending fossil gas producers from scrutiny.

It’s not the primary time Guterres has taken goal on the fossil gas sector or drawn consideration to the necessity for extra equitable local weather finance. But the criticism comes at a second when susceptible nations have gotten more and more vocal of their calls for local weather harm compensation.

“It certainly reflects the urgency around the issue,” stated Taylor Dimsdale, program director for danger and resilience at E3G.

Guterres’ tax proposal itself is just not new, he added. “But what you lacked in the past was the political attention and the urgency.”

Part of that urgency has been pushed by Russia’s invasion this yr of Ukraine. The battle has pushed up world vitality costs and helped fossil gas producers reap increased earnings—whilst local weather scientists frequently churn out analysis on the risks of a hotter planet.

In response, Guterres urged wealthy nations to “tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies.”

That cash, he stated, ought to be redirected to nations experiencing local weather impacts they can not adapt to—what’s identified in U.N. parlance as loss and harm. In addition, he stated a few of these proceeds may go towards serving to folks struggling to pay hovering meals and vitality payments—a measure the European Union is pursuing.

Developed nations have pushed again in opposition to the thought of a separate fund for loss and harm, fearing they might then be liable to continued payouts. The difficulty is definite to issue into upcoming local weather talks in Egypt in November (Climatewire, June 21).

“Everyone is aware this is going to be a big negotiation item so you’re starting to see more calls for solutions,” stated Dimsdale.

An finish to ‘endless discussions’

Philip Davis, prime minister of the Bahamas, stated the message about why nations bearing the impacts of the developed world’s emissions ought to be supported could have to be reframed to get the cash flowing.

“I call it enlightened self-interest,” he stated throughout a dialogue on the sidelines of the U.N. gathering, pointing to knock on results of local weather change like displacement and migration. “Climate justice and fairness seem to be eluding the industrialized world because they have their own definition for those things.”

Countries just like the Bahamas lose large chunks of their gross home product each time a main storm strikes. Because of that affect, entry to funding via establishments just like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund additionally must be remedied.

“They say I’m a wealthy country,” Davis stated. “But having had what, five hurricanes in the last four or five years, that ratchets up my debt to beyond a sustainable level.”

And servicing the debt that’s taken on to repair these damages prohibits his nation from investing in issues resembling renewable vitality or adaptation to reply to future risks.

“Mitigation is about reducing carbon emissions. Adaptation is about building resiliently, but what about loss and damage?” Davis requested. “When something happens, how would countries like my country respond to that and who is going to come to help us when it comes to our loss and our damages—and I think that is something that has to be factored in.”

Negotiators ultimately yr’s local weather talks in Glasgow, Scotland, agreed to begin a new dialogue on finance choices for loss and harm—to the chagrin of many climate-vulnerable nations. Leaders and activists in these locations say they don’t have time to attend as rising seas and extreme climate batter their fragile economies.

Guterres signaled that he felt the identical, calling Tuesday for an finish to “endless discussions.” “Vulnerable countries need meaningful action,” he stated.

Some nations are beginning to come round to the necessity.

Denmark said Tuesday that it could present a further $13.4 million to handle climate-induced damages in locations just like the Sahel, a semi-arid area in Africa.

Speaking in the identical dialogue as Davis, World Bank head David Malpass stated it’s providing disaster bonds and loans that nations can entry instantly after a pure catastrophe whereas awaiting funding or help from different sources.

But these are nonetheless money owed, Davis identified.

The IMF has a disaster belief funded by donors that permits it to supply grants for debt aid to poor and susceptible nations when disasters happen.

Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s managing director, stated it frightened her that the dialogue round loss and harm has barely superior with world local weather negotiations lower than two months away.

“It is a very fair ask from countries that are already hit,” she stated.

Climate-vulnerable nations are additionally calling for reforms that embrace debt aid and debt-for-nature swaps, the place a part of a nation’s debt is forgiven in alternate for investments in conservation.

Guterres proposed adjustments to borrowing circumstances that will enable nations deemed high-risk by monetary establishments to entry more cash, or basing entry to finance on vulnerability to catastrophe reasonably than gross home product. That proposal echoes one made by Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, who has been calling for reform to the worldwide monetary system.

The Alliance of Small Island States, a grouping of low-lying island nations, is devising an index that will measure nations’ vulnerability.

Guterres additionally urged governments to pour cash into services such because the Green Climate Fund, which helps nations pay for clear vitality and adaptation measures. That effort has struggled to get funding via the appropriations course of within the United States.

Fossil gas companies weren’t the one ones that bought powerful remedy from Guterres. The worldwide neighborhood broadly, he stated, is “gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction.”

Reprinted from E&E News with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. E&E News supplies important information for vitality and surroundings professionals.

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