This short excerpt by the late Professor Saleemul Huq is as poignant today, if not more so, than when he said it at COP23 back in 2017. Saleem will be remembered as one of the great champions of facing the reality of climate change, being a champion of the most vulnerable to its’ impacts, and pushing hard for Loss & damage to become a central part of the UNFCCC negotiations. He will also be remembered for good humour, wisdom and humility.
Saleemul Huq: We are saying that the time has come to put the polluter pays principle into practice, okay. In this context, we have a set of maybe a few dozen very large multinational fossil fuel companies who are making billions of dollars of profits by mining the fossils and selling and burning that and causing the loss and damage so we know who’s causing it.
There’s companies and they’re making profits out of it. So tax them, let’s put a loss and damage levy on them and let the countries apply that levy get the money out of them and put that into a loss and damage fund. It would probably raise billions of dollars that way.
Sooner or later, they’re going to have to do it because it is unconscionable for polluters to be allowed to continue to profit from pollution and cause loss and damage to people around the world and we sit and do nothing about it.
Nick Breeze: We let them get away with it. It really is profiting from destruction.
Saleemul Huq: Precisely. You know they’re making profits by killing people. It’s as simple as that.
Saleemul Huq died on the 28th October 2023 leaving a strong legacy of speaking on behalf of the most climate vulnerable people in the Global South The whole interview can be viewed here: https://genn.cc/dr-saleemul-huq-cop23/