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Developing countries call for new taxes on oil and gas producers

United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan at the UAE Pavilion during Cop27 Rashed Al Mansoori/UAE Presidential Court
United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan at the UAE Pavilion during Cop27

By the end of the second full day of Cop27 the tone of the conference had been set.

One after another, leaders of developing countries took to the plenary stage to voice their frustration and demand that rich nations offer more support to help combat the effects of climate change.

After Barbadian prime minister Mia Mottley made headlines with her address the day before – referencing the slave trade upon which she said the Western industrialisation that created climate change was formed – it was another Carribean leader who sparked the most debate on day two.

Prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, called for new taxes to be imposed on fossil fuel suppliers.

“The oil and gas industry continues to earn almost $3 billion daily in profits,” Browne said. “It is about time that these companies are made to pay a global carbon tax on their profits as a source of funding for loss and damage.”

Others to mention loss and damage, the hot-button issue in Sharm el-Sheikh, included Pakistan’s prime minister Shehbaz Sharif who called for it “to be part of the core agenda of Cop27 to meet the pressing humanitarian needs of those that are trapped in a crisis of public financing fuelled by debt.” 

Following floods this year, 32 million Pakistanis are still displaced and the country has suffered damages worth an estimated $30 billion.

Sharif has previously spoken of his intention to claim compensation from industrialised nations for climate damage.

Elsewhere, president of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, echoed the comments made by UN secretary-general António Gutteres on day one by telling attendees: “let us not take the highway to hell, but let’s earn the clean ticket to heaven”.

As analysts predicted, big announcements by member parties were thin on the ground on the second day – the most noteworthy climate agreements tend to come at the end of the conference – but two modest developments in the Middle East earned some press attention.

Emirati firm Masdar signed an agreement with Egyptian firms Infinity and Hassan Allam Utilities to build a 10 gigawatts (GW) onshore wind farm. Once built, the plant will be among the largest of its kind in the world, producing around 47,790 GW hours a year.

It is not the first time Masdar and Infinity have worked together. In fact, a joint Masdar-Infinity 6 megawatt solar plant opened last month and is currently supplying electricity to Sharm el-Sheikh.

Of more political interest was a tripartite meeting that took place between Israeli, Iraqi and Lebanese representatives on the sidelines of the conference.

Israeli-Iraqi relations are unofficial and frosty and Israel is still officially at war with Lebanon.

It follows a recent maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon that, in a notable development in the history of the two countries, achieved the tacit approval of Hezbollah leaders.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Israeli environment minister Tamar Zandberg said that the meeting was part of a regional forum of eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries.

“The countries of the region share the warming and drying climate and just as they share the problems they can and must share the solutions,” Zanberg said. “No country can stand alone in the face of the climate crisis.”

Meanwhile, the Lebanese prime minister’s office has reportedly distanced itself from the meeting, saying: “There was no contact whatsoever with any Israeli official”.

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