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UN urges higher tax for Australian fuel giants

"The so-called tactical use of nuclear weapons is utterly unacceptable," Antonio Guterres says.

"The so-called tactical use of nuclear weapons is utterly unacceptable," Antonio Guterres says. Photo: AAP

The head of the United Nations has called for Australia and other major economies to tax the super profits of fossil fuel companies to help people make ends meet and be protected from climate change.

“I am calling on all developed economies to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies,” Secretary-General’s António Guterres told a high-level meeting in New York.

“Those funds should be re-directed in two ways: to countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis, and to people struggling with rising food and energy prices.”

As world leaders and Australian ministers gather for the annual week of talks, Mr Guterres warned “we are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction” despite needing to act on many fronts including war and an energy crisis.

“Our world is addicted to fossil fuels. It’s time for an intervention,” he said.

“We need to hold fossil fuel companies and their enablers to account.”

He acknowledged oil, gas and coal cannot be shut down overnight.

“But it is high time to put fossil fuel producers, investors and enablers on notice,” he said.

That includes the banks, private equity firms, asset managers and other financial institutions in Australia and elsewhere that “continue to invest and underwrite carbon pollution”.

He said the G20 group of nations that includes Australia emits 80 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions but the poorest and most vulnerable who contributed least to the crisis are bearing the brunt of the damage.

“Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry is feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while household budgets shrink and our planet burns,” he said.

“Polluters must pay.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine this year sparked an energy shock as oil and gas prices rise, forcing up the price of food and other essentials – for households, farmers, manufacturers and industry.

“Another major concern is the impact of high gas prices on the production of nitrogen fertilisers,” Mr Guterres warned.

“Without action now, the global fertiliser shortage will quickly morph into a global food shortage.”

Foreign Minister Penny Wong is leading Australia’s delegation to the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York that runs until September 24.

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen is also in the United States to participate in climate week at the United Nations and represent Australia at clean energy talks in Pittsburgh.

He will reiterate that Australia is open for business for renewable energy investment.

– AAP

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