EU citizen initiative Tax the Rich for climate action

Tax the rich to pay for climate action – study

Environment News

A new international study reveals most Italians acknowledge the urgent need for substantial changes to drive climate action. They also support higher taxes on the wealthy to fund ecological initiatives.

Conducted by Ipsos for the Earth4All initiative and the Global Commons Alliance, the survey across 18 G20 nations found that 62% of Italians agree there needs to be significant climate action this decade.

Additionally, 61% of Italians favour a wealth tax, and 64% endorse higher income taxes for the rich. There’s also considerable backing for redistributing revenue from pollution taxes, such as those on greenhouse gas emissions, with 71% in support. Furthermore, 63% of those surveyed advocate for an economic system that prioritises the well-being of people and nature over profit.

“A large majority of Italians believe a giant leap is needed this decade to address the climate emergency,” stated Earth4All co-lead Owen Gaffney. “Despite recent political shifts, there remains strong support for sweeping reforms for planetary stewardship. Italians show strong support for fair tax reforms, underscoring citizen commitment to a just transition. There’s a clear mandate for accountable governance and policies that ensure a fair and sustainable transformation.”

Political voting does not reflect survey results

These findings might seem surprising given the recent electoral success of Italy’s ruling coalition led by Premier Giorgia Meloni and her right-wing Brothers of Italy (FdI) party. Meloni’s government has criticised many policies of the European Green Deal, advocating for a more pragmatic approach to environmental issues.

“The big puzzle is why support for climate action and addressing wealth inequality does not translate into political momentum,” Gaffney told news outlet ANSA. “The survey can’t answer this definitively, but it gives us some pointers.

“Generally, a significant number of people have a low opinion of government and many don’t really trust that the government is working for ordinary people. They might experience this as wage stagnation for many years and job insecurity. They may worry that an energy transition will make them worse off.”

Indeed, only one in four Italians trust the government to make decisions that benefit the majority, and this drops to 21% for decisions impacting future generations.

“Many people want political reform and while people definitely support democracy as a good way to govern, a surprising number are not put off by more authoritarian or populist styles of government,” Gaffney continued. “I think far-right parties have been successful at tapping into this frustration. But what I hope the survey shows is that an ambitious agenda for a fair transformation of society—a new social contract—is a vote winner. Climate policies can’t be just seen in isolation. This is systems change.”

Support the cause

There is an EU citizen’s initiative for just this cause – Tax the Rich – online. The initiative requires at least one million online signatures by 9th October, and minimum thresholds met in 7 countries. Currently (24-06-2024 16:00), Italy has 23,087 signatures. The threshold is 53,580.

You can add your signature here.

Screenshot from EU signature collection site showing number of signatures collected in Italy

The objective, stated on the official EU site, says:

“This initiative calls on the European Commission to establish a European tax on great wealth. This would contribute to the Union’s own resources, and the revenue would make it possible to amplify and perpetuate European ecological and social transition and development cooperation policies, cofunded by the Member States. The contribution would be used to combat climate change and inequality and would help to ensure that European citizens pay their fair share towards achieving these objectives.”

Italy results in-line with other G20 countries

The results for Italy were consistent with those of other G20 countries. The Ipsos survey reported 68% of citizens across 17 G20 nations support a wealth tax on the rich to fund major economic and lifestyle changes, with only 11% opposed. Moreover, 70% support higher income taxes for the wealthy, and 69% favour higher taxes on large businesses.

Earth4All, comprising leading economists, scientists, and advocates, released these findings ahead of the G20 summit in Brazil. For the first time, a wealth tax will be on the agenda as these nations discuss strategies to address economic and environmental challenges.

In July last year, a third of Italians felt the environmental crisis is exaggerated.

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