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Cop28 Barbados PM calls for taxation of banks, oil, gas and shipping to fund climate adaptation

MIA MOTTLEY, a prominent developing-world leader on the issue of climate change, called today for global taxation of financial services, oil and gas and shipping industries to help pay for poorer countries’ efforts to cope with global warming.

The Barbados Prime Minister, who has been tipped to succeed Antonio Guterres as United Nations secretary-general, was speaking at the UN’s Cop28 climate conference in Dubai as the talks turned to how developing countries could find the trillions of dollars that experts say they will need to adapt to climate change, reduce its future impact and make good losses and damage caused by climate-related disasters such as floods, forest fires and heatwaves.

Ms Mottley praised last week’s formal launch of a loss and damage fund at Cop28, to which a number of governments, including those of Germany and summit host the United Arab Emirates, have pledged hundreds of millions, but she warned that the total so far is a long way from what is needed.

A tax on global financial services, set at 0.1 per cent, could raise $420 billion (£331.6bn) for loss and damage costs, she argued, “not $720 million (£568.5m), where we are today.”

“If we took 5 per cent of oil and gas profits last year — oil and gas profits were $4 trillion (£3.1tn) — that would give us $200bn (£158bn),” Ms Mottley said.

“If we had a 1 per cent tax on the value of shipping — last year, the value of that was $7tn (£5.5tn) — that would give us $70bn (£55bn).”

Climate activists chimed in by staging a protest at the venue where tens of thousands of political leaders, economists, business heads, philanthropists and others are gathered for the two-week conference.

“Billions, not millions! Fill the fund now!” they chanted.

The G20, a group of key developing and industrialised countries that are responsible for four-fifths of all greenhouse-gas emissions, said in New Delhi earlier this year that developing nations will need $5.9trn (£4.6tn) by 2030 to meet their climate goals, plus another $4trn (£3.1tn) if they are to get on track for net-zero emissions by 2050.

Climate Vulnerable Forum secretary-general Mohamed Nasheed expressed doubt that such an amount would be pledged any time soon: “We are stuck in millions,” the former president of the Maldives said. “So, I cannot see it going up to trillions.”

The United States has never adopted a global tax. Republicans in Congress are opposed to new taxes and to funding many multilateral institutions and programmes.

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