A call to tax the rich, airfare and energy as climate cash sputters

By Sara Schonhardt | 04/19/2024 06:22 AM EDT

A group of nations is trying to revive contentious levy ideas as international aid efforts languish.

A yacht enters port at the French Mediterranean island of Corsica.

A yacht enters port at the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. The wealthy could pay climate taxes under a plan being developed by an international task force. Pascal Pochard-Casabianca/AFP via Getty Images

The world is facing a major shortfall in financial help to address climate change. So some countries are getting creative.

One idea: Tax polluters — or their customers — to raise money for developing countries that are struggling to expand clean energy and build climate resilience. Potential levies include taxes on air travel, financial transactions and windfall fossil fuel profits. Other targets could include the world’s richest people, and a slice of income from every bucket of coal and barrel of oil extracted from the ground.

The plan is being pursued by the International Tax Task Force, a group established at the COP28 climate talks last year that now includes a handful of countries, such as Colombia, Spain and the Marshall Islands. It is chaired by Kenya, Barbados and France.


Those countries met this week to begin discussing each potential levy and to map out a plan that can be presented at the COP30 climate talks in Brazil next year. By then, they hope to build a coalition of governments that would commit to implementing at least one of the taxes, said Laurence Tubiana, head of the European Climate Foundation, which is hosting the tax task force secretariat.