climate change development

Can Ethiopia break the climate deadlock?

I’ve resisted blogging every detail of the Copenhagen talks over the last week, as it would only be adding to the internet echo chamber of speculation over whether or not we’ll get anything resembling an actual climate deal.

However, I’ll make an exception of this one – the has come not from Gordon Brown or Barack Obama, but Miles Zenawi of Ethiopia.

As you may know, one of the big sticking points at Copenhagen has been funding for climate adaptation, with developing countries demanding payments from those historically responsible for climate change, and the richer countries resisting. Last night, the Ethiopian president proposed an alternative way to raise those same funds – a Tobin tax, and a tax on aviation.

Both are ways of raising money multi-laterally, and both would have the additional benefits. The Tobin tax would help stabilise currency markets, and an aviation tax would appropriately raise funds from one of the most damaging activities. Both would also close out-dated tax loopholes, as neither aviation nor currency trading are subject to taxation. Ethiopia’s proposal effectively identifies two whole new sources of untapped global income, which is why we’ve suggested both here before as equitable ways of raising money at an international level.

Both Britain and France have supported Zenawi’s proposals, and here’s hoping they deliver on their initial promise. For now, I’m celebrating the fact that the best idea of the conference so far has come from Africa.

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