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Gordon Brown: States that profited from oil surge should pay global windfall

The former prime minister said a share of profits should help poorer nations fight climate change.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown

States which banked “staggering” profits from the high price of oil last year should pay a global windfall levy to help poorer nations in the fight against climate change, former prime minister Gordon Brown has said.

Nations such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Norway benefited from a “lottery-style bonanza” after their profits more than doubled in 2022 following the spike in the global oil price, the former Labour leader said.

Speaking ahead of the Cop28 summit in Dubai later this year, Mr Brown said a global windfall levy would help kick-start a wider agreement for a climate finance fund to support the global south this winter.

Mr Brown said: “Petro-states have recorded almost unimaginable profits from the rise in oil price in recent years.

“Pre-Covid, global oil and gas revenues were, according to the International Energy Association (IEA) running at 1.5 trillion dollars a year (£1.2 trillion) – in 2022, they soared to an unprecedented 4 trillion dollars (£3.3 trillion).

“To put these extraordinary figures into context, 4 trillion dollars is 20 times the entire global aid budget. It is an income so big that it exceeds the entire GDP of the United Kingdom.

“These producer states have done literally nothing to earn these extra profits. It represents one of the biggest-ever transfers of wealth from poor to rich nations.

“I am therefore calling on these states which have benefited so much to contribute to a new global windfall levy to help the fight against climate change.”

“Given that the high price of oil and gas has been the principal reason why an additional 141 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty, it is the very least they could do.”

Support for such a levy could trigger a wider agreement at the Cop28 summit which begins on November 30, the former prime minister said.

He has written to the new G20 chairman, Brazilian president Lula da Silva, asking him to hold a pre-Cop28 summit with the Opec states to agree the plan for the levy.

Mr Brown added: “The consequences of such a grand gesture would be immense.”

The Scottish former prime minister is the UN’s special envoy for global education and the World Health Organisation’s ambassador for global health financing.

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