'There is no climate justice without fiscal justice'; These were the words echoed by Prof. Attiya Waris at the COP 28 summit in Dubai on 5th December 2023., Professor Waris, UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and other international financial obligations, delivered a crucial address on the intersection of finance, illicit financial flows, tax, and human rights. Her insightful focuses on the critical link between finance, illicit financial flows, tax, and human rights in the context of climate justice
Professor Waris highlighted the current gap in discussions surrounding the diverse types of finance, variations in financial mechanisms, forms of tax collection, and issues related to illicit financial flows and wealth taxes in the context of climate justice. She called for a deeper exploration of these facets, stressing the need for a more thoughtful understanding.
The professor identified four main areas of concern including sustainable linkages in fiscal matters, urgency in climate action negotiations, efficient systems for resource collection and redistribution, and the necessity for in-depth discussions on fiscal efficiency and effectiveness in climate action.
Acknowledging the urgency of climate action, Professor Waris emphasized the need for climate finance in developing countries. She referenced the UNEP adaptation gap report, indicating that developing countries require an annual sum ranging from $194 billion to $366 billion. The provision of international grant-based public finance is very crucial.
Prof. Waris also recognized the importance of finance for loss and damage in developing countries. Citing findings from the international high-level expert group, she noted a projected $200-$400 billion in external debt-free (grant-based) financing needs for developing countries by 2030.
Professor Waris emphasized the need to infuse sustainability into discussions about climate and human rights. She called for a closer examination of why certain financial targets have not been met, urging clarity on their absence in past budgets and a strategic plan for their inclusion in future budgets.
Expressing concern over the lack of urgency in climate negotiations, Professor Waris called for bold fiscal steps to combat the climate emergency. She highlighted the principles of transparency, accountability, and responsibility in fiscal legitimacy, urging open and clear commitments shared in advance to enhance the effectiveness of climate policies.
From a fiscal perspective, the professor stressed the importance of efficiency and effectiveness in resource use, asserting that preventing further climate change is the most efficient and effective approach. She underscored the urgency of the matter and the need to reclaim what has been lost due to climate change.
Professor Waris concluded by emphasizing the underpinnings of fairness and justice in climate and fiscal matters. Efficient systems for revenue collection and redistribution were highlighted as crucial components, asserting that true climate justice is unattainable without fiscal justice.
Professor Waris' message leaves a powerful call to action: to ensure sustainable financing, transparency, and human-rights-centered policies in the fight against climate change. We must move beyond mere discussions and implement bold, equitable solutions to achieve true climate justice.