Tax carbon, not people, urges UN chief

Governments the world over should rapidly transition to increase the tax burden on high polluting firms, halt plans for new coal plants and expedite the closure of existing coal infrastructure, the United Nations’ Secretary-General António Guterres has urged in a speech in New Zealand.

Mr Guterres said that scientific consensus was beyond reproach, and that the world ‘absolutely needs’ to have achieved carbon neutrality by 2050 to avert a climate catastrophe.

“First, shift taxes from salaries to carbon. We must tax pollution, not people. Second, stop subsidies to fossil fuels. Taxpayers’ money should not be used to boost hurricanes, to spread drought and heatwaves, to bleach corals or to melt glaciers. Finally, stop the construction of new coal plants by 2020. We want a green economy not a grey economy in the world,” Mr Guterres said.

Mr Guterres reserved particular criticism for governments that have been slow to act on the looming threat of climate change.

“Governments are still afraid to move forward. They feel the costs of climate action forgetting that the costs of inaction are much bigger than any costs of climate action,” Mr Guterres concluded.

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