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Major Media Outlets From 20+ Nations Demand Windfall Profits Tax on Big Oil

"As a bare minimum, a windfall tax on the combined profits of the largest oil and gas companies—estimated at almost $100bn in the first three months of the year—needs to be enacted."

Demonstrators read spoof newspapers with climate crisis messages in London on October 3, 2022,Martin Pope/Getty Images

More than 30 major media outlets from countries on nearly every continent published an editorial Tuesday calling on governments to impose a windfall profits tax on fossil fuel giants that have made a killing as poor nations face devastating climate impacts and people worldwide struggle to heat their homes, feed their families, and pay rent.

"As a bare minimum, a windfall tax on the combined profits of the largest oil and gas companies—estimated at almost $100bn in the first three months of the year—needs to be enacted," reads the editorial, which appeared at The Guardian in the U.K., The Nation and Rolling Stone in the U.S., The Hindu in India, Camunda News in Angola, El Espectador in Colombia, and dozens of other publications.

"The United Nations was right to call for the cash to be used to support the most vulnerable. But such a levy would only be the start," the editorial continues. "Poor nations also carry debts that make it impossible to recover after climate-related disasters or protect themselves from future ones. Creditors should be generous in writing off loans for those on the frontline of the climate emergency."

The joint call from dozens of media organizations based in more than 20 countries comes as world leaders gather in Egypt for COP27 and officials from the largest economies convene in Indonesia for the latest round of G20 talks.

The failure of rich nations such as the U.S., the U.K., and Canada to live up to their "loss and damage" commitments to poor countries suffering the worst impacts of the climate crisis has been central to the COP27 conference. The leaders of small-island countries and the head of the United Nations have argued that a windfall profits tax on the large polluters responsible for planet-warming emissions could be used to fund badly needed climate aid.

"Profligate producers of fossil fuels have benefited from extortionate profits at the expense of human civilization," Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua, said in a speech last week. "While they are profiting, the planet is burning."

While some countries, including the U.K., have imposed windfall taxes on oil and gas giants, they've thus far been limited and carried minimal impacts for fossil fuel companies such as Chevron, Exxon, Shell, and BP, which continue to post record-shattering profits as people around the world face high prices at the pump.

During its earnings call last month, Shell executives said the company has yet to pay any windfall taxes in the U.K. despite its sky-high profits over the past year.

In his remarks at the opening of COP27 last week, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged "all governments" to "tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies" and "redirect that money to people struggling with rising food and energy prices and to countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis."

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"The deadly impacts of climate change are here and now," said Guterres. "Loss and damage can no longer be swept under the rug. It is a moral imperative. It is a fundamental question of international solidarity—and climate justice. Those who contributed least to the climate crisis are reaping the whirlwind sown by others."

The editorial published by major media outlets on Tuesday echoed that message, noting that "the world's poorest people will bear the brunt of the destruction wreaked by drought, melting ice sheets, and crop failures."

"To shield these groups from the loss of life and livelihoods will require money," the editorial states. "Developing countries, says one influential report, need $2 trillion annually to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and cope with climate breakdown."

"Rich countries account for just one in eight people in the world today but are responsible for half of greenhouse gases," the editorial continues. "These nations have a clear moral responsibility to help. Developing nations should be given enough cash to address the dangerous conditions they did little to create—especially as a global recession looms."


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