“Polluters must pay!”
These three words effectively summarize United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ words of caution on the looming climate disaster that the world faces.
Speaking at UN General Assembly’s 77th Session’s General Debate on Tuesday, the secretary general addressed several global issues, including what Guterres called the “climate crisis.” He highlighted the fact that the countries hardest hit by climate change are not necessarily the ones responsible for causing the problem in the first place.
“The G20 [the Group of 20] emits 80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. But the poorest and most vulnerable—those who contributed least to the crisis—are bearing its most brutal impacts,” lamented Guterres. “Meanwhile, 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 continued by reiterating the longstanding point that fossil fuel companies should be held to account for their role. “Of course, fossil fuels cannot be shut down overnight,” he acknowledged. “A just transition means leaving no person or country behind. But it is high time to put fossil fuel producers, investors and enablers on notice. Polluters must pay.”
The funds derived from those taxes on windfall profits should be earmarked, says the UN chief, towards helping countries that are suffering the “loss and damage caused by the climate crisis” and should likewise be used to assist people struggling with “rising food and energy prices.”
In leaked documents, it was revealed poorer countries are planning to demand wealthy economies be taxed on fossil fuels or flying to compensate for suffering from the ongoing climate crisis.
Guterres called for action in his address, demanding that the fossil fuel industry be held accountable for making profits while billions while citizens regress further into poverty.
As climate change progresses, the damage to developing countries is only going to worsen. Keeping in mind the increasing sea and air temperatures in the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda also submitted a paper to the UN shedding light on the potential threat of a super storm forming within years that would cost US$ 8.9 billion in damage to the island nation alone, six times its annual GDP.
Guterres stated that the unrest that hovers between developed and developing countries is an increasing threat and was the root of geopolitical tensions that were poisoning every area of global cooperation, “by acting as one, we can nurture fragile shoots of hope.”