Wealth & Responsibility
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Issue Date:  March 7, 2008

Bishop calls for carbon taxes in rich countries


Carbon taxes in the world’s richest countries should be used to ameliorate the effects of global warming in the world’s poorest countries, said an Irish bishop.

“Climate change is undermining the fight against poverty,” said Bishop John Kirby of Clonfert, chairman of the Irish bishops’ overseas aid agency, Trocaire. “Developing countries haven’t caused global warming, but the world’s poorest people are left to cope with the consequences for three reasons: They live in areas that are seeing the biggest impact of global warming, they depend heavily on the weather for their livelihoods, and they are already living in poverty, therefore they are less able to cope with the impacts of these climate changes.”

At a Feb. 5 news conference launching Trocaire’s Lenten fundraising campaign, Kirby said he wants a significant share of carbon-tax revenues to go to the newly developed U.N. Adaptation Fund, created to help poorer countries adapt to climate-change threats.

The bishop noted a recent government announcement that a new carbon tax on the consumption of fossil fuels will be introduced in Ireland.

According to the United Nations and the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recorded natural disasters over the last decade have tripled since the 1970s, and if greenhouse emissions contribute at their current rate, Africa would experience major crop failure and water shortages, the bishop said.

“As a global problem, all countries have a common and shared responsibility to tackle climate change. Rich industrialized countries, however, bear particular responsibility for action,” he said. “Any action we take must take the rights of developing countries into consideration. Poorer countries with low carbon emissions must be allowed to continue their economic development and mustn’t be punished for the sins of the developed world.”

National Catholic Reporter, March 7, 2008

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