Fossil fuel companies should be taxed and the money shared with vulnerable nations hit by the climate crisis, the UN secretary-general has urged. The Guardian he says:
Antonio Guterres said "polluters will have to pay" for the damage caused by heatwaves, floods, droughts and other climate impacts. He even said that it was "time to notify fossil fuel producers, investors and those in charge".
"Today, I call on all developed economies to tax the profits of fossil fuel companies," Guterres said in a speech to the UN general assembly on Tuesday. "These funds should be redirected in two ways - to countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis and to people struggling with rising food and energy prices."
Guterres' appeal came in his most urgent speech yet on the state of the planet and the will of governments to change course. His first words were: "Our world is in big trouble."
"Let us have no illusions. We are in rough seas. A winter of global discontent is on the horizon, a cost-of-living crisis is raging, trust is collapsing, inequalities are exploding and our planet is burning," he told the assembly.
“We have a duty to act and yet we are stuck with a colossal global dysfunction. The international community is not ready or willing to face the great dramatic challenges of our time.”
Under Antonio Guterres' proposal, tax revenue would go to mainly developing countries that suffer "loss and damage" from global warming, and would be invested in disaster early warning systems and other resilience-building initiatives. Vulnerable countries are poised to use UN general assembly week to call on rich nations for a global "justice-based climate tax".
His speech on Tuesday was particularly poignant, delivered at the general assembly's big event following the secretary-general's recent visit to Pakistan, where floods from a monsoon have submerged a third of the country and displaced millions of people.
Governments must break their addiction to fossil fuels, Guterres said, targeting not just the mining companies themselves but the entire business infrastructure that supports them. "This includes banks, private equity funds, asset managers and other financial institutions that continue to invest in and underwrite carbon pollution," the secretary-general said.
“Also included are public relations with the billions that protect the fossil fuel industry from scrutiny. Just as the tobacco industry did decades ago, lobbyists and spin doctors have spewed harmful misinformation. Fossil fuel interests should spend less time on public relations and more on averting a planetary disaster." Antonio Guterres said it is "time to move beyond the endless debates" and give funding to vulnerable countries. For rich nations it said they should double adaptation funding by 2025, as they promised to do at UN climate talks in Scotland last year.