Tax policies are climate policies

Tax policies are climate policies

The author is a policy analyst for domestic campaigns and Francophone communities for Climate Action Network Canada.

The recent Supreme Court rulings in Canada recognizing the federal government’s right to carbon pricing put an end to several years of climate debate surrounding the event. However, despite much attention being paid to attracting this general policy, carbon pricing is only a full-fledged tool and we need to respond to a problem as complex and grand as the climate crisis.

One of these devices is under radar: simple tax. Yet the climate crisis and the crisis of inequality are inherently linked.

It is common to compare the liabilities of different countries in relation to the climate crisis: the G20 countries, which together represent 85% of global GDP, 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. However, for years economists have been working to measure carbon impact by taking into account inequalities in countries in terms of income levels. Given the staggering increase in economic inequality in recent years, inequality between nations certainly has its limits.

The Oxfam Carbon Inequality Report, Updated 2020Between 1990 and 2015, between 1990 and 2015, the richest 10% of the world’s population (630 million people) was responsible for 52% of carbon emissions between 1990 and 2015. The richest 1% or 63 million people, 15% of the accumulated output, or 50% of the world’s population are poor.

Evaluating the United Nations Environment Program To meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement, the richest 1% will have to reduce their carbon footprint by 30 times, while the poorest 50% will have to increase their carbon footprint several times because they do not contribute significantly to the problem. The worst paradox of the climate crisis is that they are the ones who suffer the most.

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We are all equal in terms of carbon impact. An approach that focuses on changing individual behavior regardless of these inequalities or applies equally to all is ineffective and reactionary.

Let us consider air transport emissions, the infamous pollution zone that is technically difficult to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, not all flights are affected by the same carbon. A business class flight on a private jet would be more polluting than an economy class trip, Because fewer passengers equals more departures. Especially since it flies at high frequencies without proportion to the ultrasound. For example, Of data collected in 2017 Written byInternational Council on Clean TransportationAn independent NGO found that more than half of American adults have never traveled by plane and that two-thirds of the population steals 12%. A person who goes abroad once a year to visit his family does not have the same influence as other billionaires who take a plane in a taxi.


In recent times, it is not surprising that the concentration of wealth in the hands of wealthy minorities and large multinational corporations has kept pace with the growth of the global economy. Greenhouse gas emissions. It is no coincidence that the weakening of the tax system and the abolition of public services in many industrialized countries have prevented or slowed down the adoption of the stringent public policies required to distort GHG emissions. The abundant resources available to this affluent elite underscore their weight in the decisions that politicians make, unifying inequalities.

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Apple, the world’s most profitable company, has for years paid only 0.005% tax on its profits as a result of a special arrangement with Ireland; PropAblica Billionaires such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffett recently revealed that they have not paid a single penny in income tax to the US government. We know that too More than a third of global GHG emissions are from 20 companies in the energy sectorIn addition, many of them spend more than $ 240 million a year against climate policy.

Public support for speedy action to combat global warming will strengthen the more advanced tax system. To borrow the yellow clothes that opposed the fuel tax in France: “When we talk about the end of this month, the elites are talking about the end of the world. ”

It is therefore urgent to take steps aimed at sharing wealth and power.

In particular, the tax on large fortunes. According to the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), an independent research firm, a wealth tax of more than $ 20 million is estimated at $ 10 billion a year. Canada is the only G7 country that does not tax estates. Another CCPA study shows that an inheritance tax of more than $ 5 million would generate $ 2 billion in annual revenue. In a recently published book, Share Wealth!, NDP Policy Director Jonathan Gavin and economist Angela McQueen suggest a number of steps to properly divide wealth. In addition to taxing personal fortunes, they propose to kill tax loopholes, increase the 1% income tax on the rich, attack tax bases and raise corporate taxes.

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Several countries have recently adopted policies in this direction, especially to replenish state treasuries and to finance post-Kovid recovery. G7 finance ministers recently announced their intention to set a global corporate tax rate of at least 15 percent – a major turning point, albeit inadequately. The Independent Commission for Reform of International Corporate Tax, a consortium of experts advocating for international taxation reform, has recommended a 25% rate instead. It will raise $ 950 billion, leaving about a third of the net profits of multinationals..

These significant revenues not only replenish the treasuries of indebted states due to the pandemic, but also financed in the long run the massive climate investments we urgently need. According to many experts, 2% of a state’s GDP should be set aside annually for climate activity, or equivalent to $ 40 billion in Canada.

So sharing wealth well means killing many birds with one stone for the climate: reducing the GHG emissions of the super-rich, redistributing economic capital and political influence – the concentration of which increases the carbon intensity of large corporations, and additional resources to respond to climate emergencies. Social unity, which is strongly intertwined with economic equality, must not forget that without confronting each other, it is a tool we cannot do to deal with such an unjust crisis.

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