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Gordon Brown Advocates Climate Levy for Wealthiest Oil-Producing Nations


Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has proposed that the wealthiest oil-producing nations should pay a global windfall tax to assist less affluent countries in their battle against climate change. Countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and Norway have greatly profited from a surge in oil prices, which Brown describes as a "lottery-style bonanza" experienced last year. Brown suggests a $25 billion (£20.4 billion) levy, aiming to enhance the chances of establishing a climate fund for developing nations.

This proposal comes in anticipation of the COP28 summit scheduled for November in Dubai. During last week's Climate Ambition Summit at the United Nations, Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed disappointment in world leaders for falling "abysmally short" in their efforts to control carbon emissions. He called for major emitters to form a climate solidarity agreement to reduce emissions and assist emerging economies.

Brown's plan seeks to prevent a potential deadlock and collapse of negotiations at COP28 in the UAE, one of the wealthiest oil-producing nations on the list. He argues that "petro-states" have reaped staggering profits due to the rising oil prices, with the top five, including Kuwait, doubling their oil revenues in 2022. According to the International Energy Association (IEA), global oil and gas revenues surged from $1.5 trillion (£1.2 trillion) before the COVID-19 pandemic to an unprecedented $4 trillion (£3.3 trillion). To provide context, $4 trillion is twenty times the entire global aid budget and surpasses the entire GDP of the United Kingdom.

Brown emphasizes that these producer states have made no significant efforts to earn this remarkable windfall, which constitutes one of the largest wealth transfers from impoverished to affluent nations. He further highlights that the high oil and gas prices have been a primary factor potentially pushing an additional 141 million people into extreme poverty worldwide, according to scientific estimates from earlier this year.

In response, he calls for the richest oil-producing nations to allocate 3% of their export earnings, amounting to $25 billion (£20.4 billion) in 2022, stating that "it is the very least they could do." Brown, a UN envoy for global education and World Health Organization ambassador for global health financing, believes that such a significant gesture would have profound consequences, offering crisis-stricken countries something that has been lacking in recent summits: hope.