For a Climate Damages Tax

Make fossil fuel giants pay for climate change destruction!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

‘It is now time for the industry most responsible to pay for the damage it has caused, and for vulnerable countries worst affected to receive the financial assistance they so urgently need’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

At the international climate talks in Bonn, over 50 civil society organisations and individuals called for the implementation of a Climate Damages Tax, a tax on the fossil fuel industry to pay for devastating loss and damage already being suffered by numerous vulnerable countries and communities as an idea whose time has come.

At the talks, the Prime Minister of Dominica made an emotional appeal for funds to pay for the terrifying destruction to his island nation, saying that, “Today, Dominica stands on the front line of the war on climate change…The lights went off on September 18th. We still have no power today – two months later.” He said that “one hundred percent of our crops have been destroyed. Ninety eight percent of our homes have been damaged.” Dominica needs $300 million to recover and “No one has yet offered to help.”

Seychelles Ambassador to the United Nations and United States, Ronny Jumeau: “We need a solution to climate change damage for my beautiful island home of the Seychelles on the front line of sea level rise and for coastal cities and communities around the world. A key part of the solution is loss and damage finance — we need new sources of finance to cope with the impacts. A climate damages tax could provide a new source of finance, at scale, and in a fair way. This concept deserves to be taken forward.”

Francois Martel, Secretary General, Pacific Islands Development Forum: “If the Pacific Islands are to survive, fossil fuels must be replaced with renewables. Even if we did this tomorrow, the Pacific will still face extreme impacts from climate change. When Cyclone Winston hit Fiji it caused damages equal to a quarter of Fiji’s GDP. When Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, more than 80% of buildings were damaged or destroyed. The Pacific do not deserve to pay for this damage — the fossil fuel industry who have caused the problem should pay.”

Dr Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh: “Bangladesh has a climate action plan, has implemented hundreds of climate projects on the ground, and we have invested taxpayers money into a climate change trust fund — all for a problem that we didn’t create. Bangladesh needs somewhere to send the cheque for climate damages. The international community must ensure that the fossil fuel industry pay a climate damages tax to create this fund.”

Mohamed Adow, International Climate Lead, Christian Aid: “Loss and damage stems from climate pollution and climate polluters must pay for it. Like stopping the trans-Atlantic slave trade, addressing climate change needs moral leadership from those who have caused the problem in the first place. The obligation for climate finance must be dealt with in a fair way, with the polluters paying the bill. Such an action will also set the world towards a low-carbon, resilient future.”

Julie-Anne Richards, Manager — International Policy, Climate Justice Programme: “At COP23 rich countries have done everything they can to stymie discussion on ways to fund the poorest people on the frontline of climate impacts. The US called into question climate impacts and instead promoted the fossil fuel industry. The very industry making trillions of dollars of profits whilst it causes climate change. A climate damages tax on the fossil fuel industry is one way to reverse the injustice of climate change, and ensure the fossil fuel industry pays for its damage – not poor people.”


We, the undersigned:

Observe, with mounting alarm, the ever-growing numbers of people whose homes are lost, lives disrupted, critical ecosystems imperilled and livelihoods ruined due to the damage inflicted by an increasingly hostile climate bringing hurricanes of greater intensity, devastating floods and encroachment of rising seas,

Note that vulnerable countries, communities and ecosystems on the frontline of catastrophic climate change now face, due to lack of meaningful progress to reduce carbon emissions to date, changes in climate beyond the ability of people and ecosystems to adapt to – a phenomenon described as ‘Loss and Damage’.

Recall the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 (COP21) where countries agreed to pursue efforts to keep temperature rise to 1.5C and where ‘Loss and Damage’ was officially recognised as a separate pillar alongside ‘Mitigation’ and ‘Adaptation’, building upon the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) established in 2013 at COP19.

Further note that the WIM has yet to make progress on its core mission of delivering finance for addressing loss and damage.

Further observe that the countries and communities most deeply affected by irreversible climate change did not create these conditions, yet are paying the price of this damage whilst, at the same time, the fossil fuel industry – responsible for approximately 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – continue to profit while bearing none of the costs consequent from the use of their products.

Declare that, consistent with the ‘polluter pays’ principle, it is now time for the industry most responsible to pay for the damage it has caused, and for vulnerable countries worst affected to receive the financial assistance they so urgently need.

To this end, we demand and commit ourselves to advocating for:

  • The establishment of an initiative for loss and damage finance with a two-year work plan identifying sources of revenue adequate to the scale of the problem in a predictable and fair way;
  • the introduction of an equitable fossil fuel extraction charge – or Climate Damages Tax – levied on producers of oil, gas and coal to pay for the damage and costs caused by climate change when these products are burnt, implemented nationally, regionally or internationally
  • the use of the substantial revenues raised to be allocated through the appropriate UN body, such as the Green Climate Fund or similar financial mechanism, for the alleviation and avoidance of the suffering caused by severe impacts of climate change in developing countries, including those communities forced from their homes
  • the urgent replacement of fossil fuels, by mid-century at the latest, with renewable sources of energy assisted by increasing the rate of the Climate Damages Tax over time.

Your organisation may sign the Declaration here.

Initial signatories


Naomi Klein (Canada) – Author/filmmaker
George Monbiot (UK) – Journalist/author
Maya Goodfellow (UK) – Journalist
Ambassador Ronny Jumeau – Seychelles


Oxfam International
Greenpeace International
WWF International
CARE International
Pacific Islands Development Forum
Climate Action Network International
Change Partnership (international)
Practical Action (international)
Christian Aid (international)
Climate Justice Programme (international)
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (South Africa)
Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity (international) (international)
Oil Change International (international)
Heinrich Böll Foundation (international)
Less Meat Less Heat (international)
Global Climate Finance Campaign (international)
Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN)
CAN Europe
Health Care Without Harm Europe
350 Pacific
CAN South Asia
HOMEF (Nigeria)
Central Victoria Climate Action (Australia)
Lighter Footprints (Australia)
Pacific Calling Partnership (Australia)
International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) (Belgium)
CNCD-11.11.11 asbl (Belgium)
11.11.11 (Belgium)
Energy Mix Productions (Canada)
The Leap (Canada/United States)
Abibiman Foundation (Ghana)
Oilwatch Ghana (Ghana)
Clean Air Action Group (Hungary)
Arab Youth Climate Movement (Lebanon)
ASTM / Climate Alliance (Luxembourg)
Oikos – Cooperação e Desenvolvimento (Portugal)
ZERO – Association for the Sustainability of the Earth System gal/International)
The Lutheran World Federation (South Africa)
Janathakshan GTE (Sri Lanka)
Alliance Sud – Swiss Alliance of Development Organizations (Switzerland)
Stamp Out Poverty (UK)
Global Justice Now (UK)
The Equality Trust (UK)
War on Want (UK)
UK Youth Climate Coalition
EEECHO (Unites States)
Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America (Unites States)
Climate Accountability Institute (United States)
EcoEquity (United States)
Sierra Club (United States)
Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA) (United States)
Center for Biological Diversity (United States)
Care About Climate (United States)
Sociedad Amigos del Viento (Uruguay)
Climate Action Moreland (Australia)

1 Comment