"Instead of tackling this injustice, the Chancellor chooses to balance the books on the backs of ordinary people rather than taxing people like us who can afford it.”
Raise taxes on big polluters and the super-rich to tackle the climate crisis, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been told by a new coalition of leading charities and campaigners.
Ahead of the Autumn Statement on Wednesday, 19 organisations have written an open letter to the Chancellor calling for a fairer tax system to address ‘rampant’ inequality and to redirect wealth to fund climate action.
There is ‘no lack of money’ to tackle the cost of living and climate crisis, only a government that requires ‘common sense’ to make those responsible for the most carbon emissions pay more, the coalition has argued.
Greenpeace, Christian Aid, Patriotic Millionaires, Global Justice Now, Common Wealth and Friends of the Earth are among the 19 signatures which have highlighted that an estimated £22 billion could be raised by a 1-2% wealth tax on assets over £10 million.
And it seems the public agree, as a recent poll by Survation showed 82% of people in Great Britain supported a wealth tax on the richest 1% to fund climate change action.
It comes as The Guardian’s latest investigation has revealed how the ‘polluter elite’ richest 1% account for more carbon emissions that a whopping 66% of the poorest, highlighting extreme inequality when it comes to responsibility for climate damage.
Carbon emissions from the luxurious lifestyles of the super-rich mean only 12 of the richest people produce more emissions than two million homes a year, while Oxfam has said a 60% tax on the incomes of the wealthiest 1% would cut the equivalent of the 2019 carbon emission of the UK.
On the same day, the UN issued a stark warning in its latest report into record global greenhouse emissions as countries are failing to do enough to limit temperature rises, stating “humanity is breaking all the wrong records when it comes to climate change”.
Alongside borrowing to invest in new green infrastructure, the coalition said raising taxes on the wealthiest people and big polluters is ‘critical’ to support government spending on policies that ensure the ‘benefits of a greener society are felt by everyone’.
In a column for LFF, Prem Sikka unpicked the government’s argument that the rich and corporations need incentives and lower tax rates, looking to Scandinavian countries where businesses thrive instead with a healthy investment in public services.
Investor and member of Patriotic Millionaires UK, a network of British Millionaires, Julia Davies has urged the government to introduce green and fair tax reforms by taxing people like her.
“There is a vast untapped resource in the extreme wealth that exists in this country that could be invested in a better Britain. But the current tax system is grossly unfair, and it means that working people and those on low incomes are endlessly picking up the pieces of a broken economy,” Davies said.
“Instead of tackling this injustice, the Chancellor chooses to balance the books on the backs of ordinary people rather than taxing people like us who can afford it.
“We are urging the government not to make this mistake again and introduce instead a package of green and fair tax reforms that raise money to invest in tackling both the climate and cost of living crises.”
On Monday evening the Patriotic Millionaires projected a message onto the Treasury calling on Jeremy Hunt to make ‘better investment in our country’ and to ‘tax our wealth’.
Image credit: anon
Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues