New York, USA.- The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, urged rich countries on Tuesday to tax windfall profits generated by fossil fuels to help countries that are victims of the impact of climate change and populations affected by inflation.
Guterres spoke to leaders gathered at the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York, after virtual and hybrid versions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I urge all developed economies to tax the windfall profits of fossil energy producing companies and redirect them in two ways: to countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis, and to populations in distress due to food prices. and energy,” said the UN chief.
Guterres had denounced a few weeks ago the “greed” of the big oil and gas companies that obtain “scandalous” profits “at the expense of the poorest”, due to the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, for which he urged governments to make them pay higher taxes.
But then he did not mention the possibility of redistributing a part of these taxes to the countries in the front line of the impact of global warming caused mainly by coal, oil and gas.
The focus on “loss and damage” caused by the multiplication of extreme weather events has become a crucial point in the climate negotiations and could become another key point of the COP27 to be held in Egypt in November, along with the reduction of emissions, as provided for in the Paris agreement, adaptation to impacts and financing.
At the COP26 in Glasgow at the end of 2021, despite pressure from developing countries demanding specific financing for these losses and damages, rich countries blocked said demand and the meeting limited itself to announcing a “dialogue” on this matter. until 2024.
A few days ago, the group of least developed countries, gathered in Dakar, presented this claim again, calling for the establishment of a “financing mechanism” to deal with the damage caused by the impact of warming.
“It is time to overcome these endless negotiations,” Antonio Guterres denounced on Tuesday. “Vulnerable countries need action that makes sense.”
After denouncing the world’s “addition” to fossil fuels, he also urged investment in renewables. “We have an appointment with the climate catastrophe,” he warned, denouncing “our suicidal war against nature.”
‘Winter of discontent’ alert
Guterres also warned world leaders of the risk of “a winter of global discontent” due to the “perfect storm” of multiple crises bearing down on the planet.
“The purchasing power crisis is unleashed, confidence is crumbling, inequalities are skyrocketing, our planet is burning, people are suffering, especially the most vulnerable,” Guterres warned.
“We are blocked by a colossal global dysfunction,” he lamented about the Governors’ inaction.
The UN chief noted that 94 countries, with 1.6 billion people – the majority in Africa – are facing “a perfect storm: economic and social fallout from the pandemic, rising food and energy prices, huge debts, spiraling inflation and lack of access to financial markets.
“These crises threaten the very future of humanity and the fate of the planet,” he warned. “Let’s have no illusions. We are in a rough sea. A winter of discontent looms on the horizon.”
Despite the dangers, the international community is “paralyzed”, lamented the Secretary General, who warned of the “risk of division between the West and the South”.
“Political divisions undermine the work of the Security Council, international law, people’s trust and faith in democratic institutions,” he explained.
“We cannot continue like this,” he said, before noting that “coordinated action anchored in respect for international law and the protection of human rights” is needed.