Raise taxes on big polluters and the super-rich to cut transport and energy costs and tackle inequality

Raise taxes on big polluters and the super-rich to cut transport and energy costs and tackle inequality, says new coalition

A broad coalition of 19 organisations including Greenpeace, the New Economics Foundation, Christian Aid and Patriotic Millionaires UK, are calling for a package of urgent tax reforms to ensure the super-rich and big polluters contribute to a fair and green transition.

In their letter the coalition calls on the Chancellor to overhaul our regressive tax system by considering a range of measures that would ensure the wealthiest individuals and big corporate polluters pay their fair share, including a 1-2% wealth tax on assets over £10 million that could raise up to £22bn a year. They also suggest using the upcoming Autumn Statement to close loopholes within existing tax measures – such as closing inheritance tax loopholes that currently cost around £1.4bn a year, equalising capital gains with income tax rates, which could raise up to £15.2bn a year, and reforming non-domiciled residents status, which could raise around £3.2bn a year.

The extra money raised should pay for a dedicated fund for green skills development and retraining for workers in high-carbon industries, subsidies to reduce public transport fares to make it easier for people on lower incomes to access jobs and services, and some form of a social tariff in the energy market to help provide a safety net for households struggling to afford their bills.

Campaigners argue that the case for raising taxes on the super-rich to tackle both the climate and cost of living crises could not be clearer. Globally, the richest 1 percent are responsible for twice as many emissions as the poorest 50 percent combined and have grabbed two-thirds of all wealth created since 2020. In the UK there is a vast untapped resource, as the richest 250 families sit on a combined wealth of £748bn and 1% of UK households own 25% of the wealth.

A recent Survation poll of 20,000 people across Great Britain, commissioned by Greenpeace, showed just how popular a wealth tax is. 82% of those who expressed an opinion said they would support the introduction of a wealth tax on the richest 1% of Britons to fund action on climate change, including a majority of people intending to vote for Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.

As well as raising taxes on the super-rich, the coalition, which also includes Tax Justice UK, Friends of the Earth, The Women’s Budget Group, and Fuel Poverty Action, CAFOD and the Muslim Charities Forum, are calling for tax reforms for big corporate polluters, which continue to fuel the climate crisis and amass huge profits while households suffer from high energy bills. Campaigners highlight how ending tax reliefs for oil and gas companies, including the latest windfall tax loophole, could raise at least £22bn over the next six years.

The coalition argues that due to the UK’s outsized contribution to historic global emissions, the government has an obligation of fairness to developing countries and communities around the world that are suffering from devastating climate impacts that they did little to cause. The money raised from properly taxing corporate polluters should therefore go towards the fund agreed for loss and damage at last year’s climate conference, COP27, as well as delivering on the UK’s existing international climate finance pledges. This would enable developing countries to transition to green solutions and rebuild following climate disasters.

Commenting, Rebecca Newsom, Head of Politics at Greenpeace UK, said: 

“While most of us have been tightening our belts during the cost-of-living crisis, the richest have seen their wealth skyrocket and fossil fuel companies have raked in obscene profits. It’s only right that they pay their fair share – especially as they’re the biggest contributors to the climate crisis.

“Taxing the wealthiest individuals and big corporate polluters would give us a vital fund to ensure that those on the lowest incomes have cheaper energy and transport bills and that communities on the climate crisis frontline get the extra financial support they urgently need.

“There’s no lack of money to make this a reality. If Rishi Sunak means a word he says about a green transition that works for ordinary folks, then he should force those most responsible for causing the problem to fund measures that would improve the lives of millions of people.”

Julia Davies UK investor and member of Patriotic Millionaires UK, a network of British Millionaires asking to be taxed more for public good, said:

“There is a vast untapped resource in the extreme wealth that exists in this country that could be invested in a better Britain. But the current tax system is grossly unfair, and it means that working people and those on low incomes are endlessly picking up the pieces of a broken economy.

“Instead of tackling this injustice, the Chancellor chooses to balance the books on the backs of ordinary people rather than taxing people like us who can afford it.

“We are urging the government not to make this mistake again and introduce instead a package of green and fair tax reforms that raise money to invest in tackling both the climate and cost of living crises.”