A former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has urged Petrostates to pay a small percentage of their soaring oil and gas revenues to help poor countries cope with the climate crisis.
Reports show that countries with large oil and gas deposits have enjoyed a record bonanza in the last two years, amounting to about $4tn (£3.3tn) last year for the industry globally. Levying a 3% windfall tax on the oil and gas export revenues of the biggest-producing countries would yield about $25bn a year.
Previous calls for windfall taxes on oil revenues have focused on large private-sector companies such as Shell, BP, Total and ExxonMobil. But private-sector companies account for only about 15% of oil and gas production worldwide. Most production comes from nationally owned oil companies, known as NOCs, in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Norway.
Brown was quoted as saying that the money could be used to help countries in the global south raise people out of poverty, cut greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the effects of the climate crisis.
“These are shocking levels of windfall profits we are seeing, and they are coming at the expense of countries in the global south,”he said. “These petrostates could make a contribution to the solutions of the climate crisis,”.
He further argued that the petrostates – the countries that produce the most oil and gas around the world – have the means and the responsibility to break the global impasse over helping poor countries cope with the impacts of the climate crisis.
“Petrostates have a duty to provide the first finance for the climate needs of the global south,” he told the Guardian in an interview. “If a small part of these revenues were properly redistributed, just think what we could achieve.”
The sums involved were trivial to the economies involved, he added. “What has been particularly galling is the money being spent on things like sportswashing that has been raised by people fuelling poverty in the global south. Instead of paying footballers $100m they could give that to a country that is desperate.”
According to reports, Saudi Arabia would be asked to pay about $10bn under the proposal, which is less than the country is spending on football, boxing and golf and if just a few of the highest-earning petrostates contributed – including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Norway – a total of $25bn would be quickly reached.
Brown also stated that the UAE, which will host this year’s Cop28 UN climate summit, had seen its export earnings from oil and gas rise from $76bn to $119bn.
Story was adapted from the Guardian.