UN chief slams ‘excessive’ profits of oil, gas firms amid Ukraine war
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for taxation on windfall profits of oil and gas companies to ease the impact of the global energy crisis on the most vulnerable people.
“It is immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis on the back of the poorest people and communities and at a massive cost to the climate,” said Mr Guterres at the launch of the third report of his Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance.
The combined profits of the largest energy companies in the first quarter of this year are close to $100 billion, he noted.
He urged all governments to tax these excessive profits and use the funds to support the most vulnerable people through the current difficult times.
All countries, and especially developed countries, must manage energy demand. Conserving energy, promoting public transport and nature-based solutions are essential components of that, he said.
There is also a need to accelerate the transition to renewables, which in most cases are cheaper than fossil fuels. At the same time, private and multilateral finance for the green energy transition must be scaled up, he said.
Every country is part of this energy crisis, and all countries are paying attention to what others are doing.
There is no place for hypocrisy, said the UN chief.
Mr Guterres said the energy crisis is a global issue, expressing the hope that the recommendations in the report could help ease the energy crisis.
“I think the question is global. It has to do with the availability of the different sources of energy globally. And for that, I believe the measures that we have announced should lead the markets to stabilisation and the reduction of prices,” he said.
Colette Bennett, economic and social analyst with Social Justice Ireland, said the organisation is “supportive” of a windfall tax on energy company profits, while it has also called on the Government to impose caps on energy tariffs.
Ms Bennett said the Government needs to take a leadership position rather than leaving it to the market and “actually drive the change that is necessary”.
She said Social Justice Ireland is in favour of a cap on the cost of energy so that those taxes are not being passed on to consumers and they are ringfenced with government collecting them and using them for energy efficient measures.
This would include measures such as retrofitting, she added.
She said a windfall tax would provide the Government and the Exchequer with sufficient income to allow it to make decisions in the upcoming budget and future budgets to boost energy infrastructure.
Over 200,000 houses have the lowest energy rating and Colette Bennett said they should be targeted first.
“You would start with your local authority low energy efficient properties because we know they are occupied by low income households and then you move towards the lowest efficiency energy rating that can give you the best gains,” she stated.
This would also mean that the families living in those properties will see significant reduction in their bills.
She said she believes this investment is better than voucher schemes and one off supplements for people to pay their bills.