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  • Writer's pictureMagdeline Gomes

World Climate Summit in Paris

Protestors demand action on climate change as world leaders meet in Paris to discuss the future of climate policy (Markus Spiske/Unsplash)

Participants from various countries gathered in Paris for a two-day summit from June 22 to June 23. It intended to discuss global issues such as climate change and poverty—namely in more vulnerable countries—as well as address the financial investments needed to enact specific plans. The event saw high engagement, with hundreds of representatives from various countries recorded to be in attendance.

Issues with Taxation

The concept of implementing a tax on the greenhouse gas emissions produced by international shipping is gaining popularity, with a potential adoption during a July meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Experts believe that a tax on shipping alone could generate up to $100 billion per year, and a strong declaration in Paris would provide a symbolic victory for French President Emmanuel Macron, particularly if the IMO also supports the measure next month. “This is a tax-free sector. And there’s no reason why it’s not taxed,” Macron said. However, Macron remarked that China and the United States are not in favor of the idea. “If China and the U.S. and several key European countries are not on board, then you would put a tax in place that would not have any impact,” he added.

It was unclear which countries at the summit supported the proposal to implement a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, which could play a significant role in involving the shipping industry in the fight against climate change. According to an official statement from France, 23 nations supported the initiative, but the identities of these nations were not disclosed.

Several activists had also hoped for a tax on the fossil fuel industry and on financial transactions to generate more sources of revenue. Unfortunately, neither proposal had much support from wealthier nations who were hesitant to impose new taxes or restrictions on their economies. “Climate finance is great, but if we don’t stop the fossil fuel industry, then it’s just a Band-Aid solution,” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a climate justice campaigner from the Philippines—a country regularly subjected to typhoons and various other climate-related disasters.

Although there was no official decision-making authority during the meeting, Macron had promised to present a to-do list and a tool for measuring progress. “We have to come up with mobilizations, commitments, new instruments, and very concrete solutions that will change life on the ground in countries facing these challenges,” the French president stated.

Debt Repayments

At the summit, the World Bank announced its plan to offer a debt repayment pause for the most vulnerable countries whenever they are affected by a disaster or crisis.

The International Monetary Fund has made $100 billion worth of Special Drawing Rights assets available to certain vulnerable countries. In addition, Macron’s administration confirmed that France would share 40 percent of its assets from the COVID-19 pandemic with these countries.

Two deals were announced on the first day of the summit. According to French officials, Zambia, which is heavily in debt, has agreed to restructure $6.3 billion in debts with several creditors, including China. Additionally, Senegal secured an agreement with the European Union and its allies in the West to support its initiatives to enhance energy access and raise its proportion of renewable energy to 40% by 2030.

Non-governmental organizations and climate activists emphasized certain positive outcomes from the summit. Still, they were critical of the overall result, stating that they failed to address the issue of climate change in a comprehensive and significant manner. “We are disappointed to see that most leaders of the world’s richest nations and most powerful institutions have once again gathered and emerged with insufficient solutions and lightly held promises,” Global Citizen and its partners said in a statement.

Furthermore, climate activists gathered in central Paris on Friday to hold polluters accountable for their environmentally detrimental actions. “There will be no climate justice without making the polluters pay,” said Patience Nabukala, part of the Ugandan activist group Fridays for Future. “People from countries like mine, we cannot afford to lose more lives, we cannot afford to lose more properties.”


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