Robin Hood travels to South Africa

ONE (SINGAPORE) has joined hands with more than sixty youth groups and civil society organisations to call on South African president Jacob Zuma to push negotiators at the COP17 climate talks in Durban to adopt a Financial Transactions Tax to fund the fight against climate change.

The so-called Robin Hood Tax could raise up to US$650 billion a year by imposing a fee of just 1/20th of one percent on financial transactions.
16 Dec 2011

Costumed Robin Hoods display a giant bull’s eye in the demonstration area outside the conference hall at the COP17 climate talks. Delegates are encouraged to hit the target – with Robin Hood Tax stickers awarded to those who hit the mark. A team of robins explain more about this innovative financing mechanism.

“We’re asking the COP17 leaders to stand up for the needs of world’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” says Alex Kent from the Robin Hood Tax campaign. “Under the “Polluter Pays” principle, we’re asking them to back the Robin Hood Tax as one way to fill the Green Climate Fund, fight climate change and fight poverty. The world cannot wait. There is no Planet B.”

Over the past two weeks, ONE (SINGAPORE) has been consistently updating our members on the latest happenings at COP17 in Durban, South Africa. Countries negotiated, delegates debated, activist and various non-profit groups stood their ground representing the majority of the world and in one voice fought for climate justice.

Unfortunately, the Robin Hood Tax was not endorsed at COP17, but momentum is building for the tax’s adoption as more countries pledge to join a “coalition of the willing”.

“The number of climate calamaties in the past few months alone is mind-boggling. Huge areas of Central America and Thailand under water. Severe drought in Somalia. Crops ruined. So many lives lost,” says ONE (SINGAPORE) co-founder Michael Switow. “The people suffering the most from man-made climate change are not responsible for causing it. We need financing now to fight climate change and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The Robin Hood Tax is a simple, fair way to do this.”

In addition to ONE (SINGAPORE), other organisations that endorsed this open letter include CIDSE (Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité), Earth in Brackets, ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation), Stamp Out Poverty and the UK Youth Climate Coalition.

The full text of the letter is below.

An appeal to South African President Jacob Zuma

Dear President Zuma,

We write to thank you for joining the emerging coalition of the willing on the Financial Transaction Tax (popularly known as the Robin Hood Tax) at the G20 Summit in Cannes. We urge you to continue to show leadership in support of the Robin Hood Tax as one of the mechanisms for fighting climate change and poverty at COP17.

We will not accept rich countries’ excuse that the financial crisis prevents them from fulfilling their promise to deliver $100bn annually to fight climate change. Raising the money to support developing countries in their efforts to climate-proof their economies and communities is a matter of economic and climate justice.

We urge you to help turn the economic and climate crises into a global opportunity. The Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) is a practical, effective and equitable way to ensure that the world’s richest help pay for the problems they created.

The FTT is a tiny tax (around 0.05%) levied on all financial market transactions. We pay a transaction tax every time we buy food and clothes; it’s only fair that the banking sector also pay a transaction tax. The 99% bailed out the financial sector three years ago, yet the gap between the rich and the poor is growing. It is now time for the financial sector to pay their fair share. The taxes will dis-incentivize high frequency trading and risky speculation, thus contributing to economic stability while potentially raising hundreds of billions of dollars every year from rich countries for fighting climate change (by filling the Green Climate Fund) and fighting poverty.

Emissions are growing, temperatures are rising, and the impacts of climate change present a clear and imminent threat to the millions of people it will force into poverty, hunger and life threatening circumstances, on the African continent and around the globe. We look to your leadership, President Zuma, to stand up for the needs of world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Ensure rich countries pay their climate debt – back the FTT in Durban this week.

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