Fair taxes on the UK’s biggest polluters could have resulted in enough money for Wales to make bus travel £1.50

Image of woman holding a sign saying People and Planet over profit

Report outlines ways to make the biggest and richest polluters pay that will help to avoid the costs of a fast and fair transition falling on ordinary households 

Fair taxes on the UK’s biggest polluters – including fossil fuel companies, frequent flyers and the extremely rich who use private jets – could have raised up to £23bn last year, according to a report published by Oxfam today.   

Illustrative modelling suggests that if the UK Government had spent just over a fifth of this extra revenue on green public transport in England, up to £86 million in additional funds would have been available to the Welsh Government – enough money to make single bus tickets across Wales £1.50. 

The report, Payment Overdue, Fair ways to make UK polluters pay for climate justice, shows that by targeting those who are most responsible for emissions, the UK Government can quickly and fairly secure much-needed funds while ensuring the burden does not fall on ordinary UK households.  

Campaigners highlight how amid a cost-of-living crisis, surging energy bills and high inflation – which has put particular pressure on lower-income households – oil and energy companies have raked in record profits in 2022 and have reported billions of pounds more in profits so far this year.  

The report recommends the UK Government enacts a series of common-sense revenue raising measures including a redesigned excess profits tax on fossil fuel companies; redirecting existing fossil fuel subsidies; a frequent flyer levy and new taxes on the use of private jets and superyachts; as well as ringfencing 20 per cent of the proceeds from a system that fairly taxes wealth for climate action. 

Oxfam Cymru says that subsequent additional public spending on domestic climate action in England by the UK Government could result in substantial new climate cash coming to Wales through Barnett consequentials.  

Campaigners say the extra funds could be used to further subsidise bus travel across Wales, helping cut emissions while also making buses – disproportionately used by women and people living in poverty – more affordable.  

Oxfam Cymru says First Minister Mark Drakeford should urge the Prime Minister to hold the UK’s biggest polluters to account: ensuring they pay for their damage. 

Sarah Rees, Head of Oxfam Cymru, said: “With global temperatures soaring, now is the time for the First Minister to ask the Prime Minister to turn up the heat on the fossil fuel companies and wealthiest people who have done most to cause the climate emergency we all now face. 

“It’s simply not right that around the world and here in Wales people living in poverty face paying the price for a crisis they did least to cause. The First Minister must send the Prime Minister a clear message: there can be no more buck passing: it’s time the biggest polluters pay up for the damage they’re causing.” 

Finance for climate action must be raised and spent fairly, to avoid entrenching existing poverty and inequality and to maintain public support for the transition to net zero. This means ensuring that those most responsible for the crisis shoulder the biggest costs of climate action, while protecting those least responsible and who lack the resources to foot the bill. 

Oxfam Cymru says that the additional funding boost the Welsh Government could receive should be used to combat the climate crisis and simultaneously lift people out of poverty, citing investing in buses as an obvious investment priority. 

Transport is currently one of Wales’ big emitters, making up 17% of Wales’ carbon emissions. Campaigners say that recent moves by the Welsh Government to encourage more active and sustainable travel – such as the introduction of the 20mph speed limit – must be complemented by greater investment in public transport.  

Rises in fares, along with complaints about the reliability and availability of bus services, are frequently blamed for falling passenger numbers, with operators warning up to a quarter of Wales’ existing services could be withdrawn without greater Government investment.  

Oxfam Cymru says that subsidising bus travel would be an important first step in a wider package of measures needed to reduce transport emissions and make public transport in Wales more reliable, affordable and accessible. 

Oxfam Cymru says that new funding flows to Wales could be enough to make all single bus fares across the country £1.50.  

Sarah Rees added: “The knock on of substantial new money being raised by the UK Government could provide the Welsh Government with a significant financial boost, enabling it to invest in the sort of transformative climate action needed help us reach net zero by 2050. 

“Investing in buses is a no brainer for the Welsh Government: it wouldn’t just make Wales greener but it would help people on low incomes – who often rely on public transport – get to work and access public services more easily.    

“The prospect of significant new funds coming to Wales should drive the First Minister to press the UK Government to act now. The climate bill is large and growing: it’s time for those with the most responsibility and greatest financial capacity to pay up.” 

For more information and interviews, please contact: Rebecca Lozza, Oxfam Media and Communications Adviser, Scotland and Wales: rlozza1@oxfam.org.uk / 07917738450      

Notes to Editor