RAccording to Tuesday’s statement by the United Nations Secretary General, ich energy companies must be made to pay some of their windfall profits in order to help victims of climate change as well as offset rising food and fuel costs.
The fossil fuel industry, which is responsible for a large share of planet-warming gases, is “feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while household budgets shrink and our planet burns,” said Antonio Guterres in his opening remarks at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
He urged richer countries to tax the profits of energy companies and redirect the funds to both “countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis” and those struggling with the rising cost of living.
This idea is already gaining traction in Europe where energy firms are making extraordinary profits due to supply disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. To help with rising energy costs, the proposal asks for $140 billion.
Continue reading: The Future Is Being Rewritten by Historic Green Investment—And Growing Climate Devastation
The Secretary-General’s comments were labeled as “misguided and counterproductive” by Frank Maisano, an energy lobbyist.
He claimed many fossil fuel companies are “at the forefront of the clean energy revolution and in most cases driving the innovation needed to make an energy transition.”
Scientists have warned that greenhouse gas emissions and the world’s reliance on oil, gas and coal needs to fall dramatically and rapidly for the world to meet its climate goals.
Guterres also demanded that developed nations pay for damage or loss in less developed nations. They are often the ones who have suffered the worst consequences of climate change and contribute little. The Pakistani government is still recovering from the last month’s devastating floods that were caused by rising temperatures.
Continue reading: Pakistan Flooding raises difficult questions about who should pay for catastrophic climate impacts
“Loss and damage are happening now, hurting people and economies now, and must be addressed now,” he said, adding that 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the 20 largest economies.
“This is a fundamental question of climate justice, international solidarity and trust.”
Guterres, alongside several nation states more severely impacted by climate change, hope that “loss and damage” — as it’s known in climate negotiations — will be prioritized at the upcoming U.N. climate summit in Egypt in November, known as COP27.
Many countries of smaller size were disappointed that richer nations such as those in the United States or Europe rejected claims for compensation for losses and damages at last year’s summit.
Earlier this year, COP27 President Sameh Shoukry hoped that discussions on loss and damage at the summit would be “ comprehensive, but it is non-adversarial.”
Associated Press’s climate coverage and environmental reporting receives funding from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. All content is the sole responsibility of the AP.
Here are more must-read stories from TIME