Policy and Advocacy

EU Lawmakers Send Mixed Message to Survivors of Corporate Abuse


Today, the EU Parliament agreed on the new EU law to make companies accountable for the damage they cause to people and the planet: the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD).

In response, Oxfam EU’s Economic Justice Policy Lead, Marc-Olivier Herman, said: “Today, EU lawmakers sent a mixed message to survivors of corporate abuse. While it is good news that the majority voted in favour of EU rules, their proposal staggers at the starting line, as it leaves most companies off the hook and survivors of corporate abuse will continue to struggle for justice.”

Notes to editors

Marc-Olivier Herman is available for comment and interview.

In March 2021, Oxfam welcomed the European Parliament’s blueprint proposal for EU due diligence rules.

In February 2022, the European Commission tabled its proposal. Oxfam labelled it a far cry from what is needed.

In December 2022, EU countries agreed on their position for this new EU law. They watered down an already weak proposal from the Commission.

Now that EU Parliamentarians agreed on their position, negotiations between the European Parliament, EU countries and Commission will begin to decide on a final version of the law.

Oxfam calls for EU due diligence rules that:

  • Holds all companies accountable for their impact on people and the planet, taking into consideration their size and the risks associated with their activities.
  • Applies to the entire value chain, which means that it should cover all those affected by the company’s business, including those using their products and services.
  • Does not let the financial sector off the hook. Banks cannot be allowed to bankroll fossil fuel investments or projects that violate human rights and destroy the planet without being held responsible.
  • Holds companies responsible for their damage to the planet, including the impact of their products and emissions.
  • Remove obstacles for survivors of corporate abuse to access justice.
  • Ties directors’ remuneration to the responsible behaviour of the company.
  • Hold companies responsible if they fail to ensure workers in their supply chains earn a living income.

Read the media briefing published ahead of the vote which breaks down the key issues in the proposal, and what EU decision-makers need to do to make it better.

Contact information

Clare Cronin, Oxfam Ireland +353 87 1952551

Jade Tenwick I Brussels, Belgium | jade.tenwick@oxfam.org | mobile +32 473 562260

For updates, please follow @OxfamIreland. You can also find us on LinkedIn. At Oxfam, we care about your privacy. If you would like to unsubscribe or correct your data, please reply to this email and let us know. Learn more about your data protection rights.

Calls for Ireland to support an historic “climate debt swap”

Financial mechanism would allow low-income countries to bring the Sustainable Development Goals back within reach

New Oxfam analysis describes a $27 trillion black hole – accumulating at around $3.9 trillion a year to 2030 – that low-and-middle income countries face to achieve the main Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and respond to the climate crisis.

Oxfam calls for rich countries to collectively borrow $11.5 trillion to fund an historic “climate debt swap” with poorer countries, in addition to finally honouring their aid commitments. This would be an essential part of high-income countries compensating for the fact that they have put the vast majority of climate-heating carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

In 2005, Ireland agreed to reach the UN recommended target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on Official Development Assistance (ODA). Nearly twenty years later Ireland is halfway to reaching this target.

Progressive wealth taxes and Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) would be enough to fund these policies and more. There would even be enough left over for rich nations to make inequality-busting investments at home. Just one measure, a progressive net wealth tax of up to 5%, could add around $1.1 trillion to rich country budgets each year.

Ireland is one of the few high-income countries that has not re-allocated any of our $4 billion allocation of SDRs to low-income countries.

At the same time, a wealth tax on elite Irish wealth at graduated rates of 2%, 3% and 5% above a high threshold of €4.7 million would raise €8.2 billion annually. Potentially this could transform Irish public services in health, housing and education while also delivering on Ireland’s international and climate commitments.

“To anyone who would dismiss an $11.5 trillion climate debt swap as radical, remember that rich countries raised about as much in response to Covid-19,” said Oxfam Ireland’s Head of Policy and Advocacy, Michael McCarthy Flynn

“And for anyone who would dismiss meeting aid promises as unrealistic, remember that rich countries could raise more than $1 trillion each year if they were willing to tax the rich. It all comes down to political will,” he added.

Despite today’s dire reality for the world’s poorest people, rich countries meeting at the World Bank Spring meetings in Washington (April 10-16) are discussing reforms that are likely to unlock only a tiny fraction of what’s needed. Ireland has an outsized role at this meeting with Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, attending in his role as head of the Eurogroup.

Some initiatives on the Spring meetings table, such as suspending debt repayments if a country suffers a natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake, or “green bonds” to encourage environmental projects, might be welcome, but they will also be nowhere near enough to meet the need.

“If rich countries like Ireland are serious about investing in people and planet, they would go beyond financial wizardry. Ireland needs to raise its voice in support of radical reform of the IMF. Otherwise, we won’t be able to stave off climate catastrophe and lift everyone out of poverty,” McCarthy Flynn said.

The new World Bank ‘Evolution Roadmap’ process will be another hot topic at the Spring Meetings. Oxfam points out that an Inequality Goal, committing the World Bank to closing the gap between the poorest 40% and the richest 10%, is long overdue. The World Bank’s own analysis shows that extreme economic inequality is a barrier to poverty reduction.

“For the first time in 25 years, extreme wealth and extreme poverty have risen at the same time. 71 million more people were forced into poverty in just four months last year because of food and fuel price hikes,” McCarthy Flynn said.

“Our economic system continues to shovel trillions of dollars into the hands of the wealthiest elite. Billions upon billions of windfall profits, riding on a cost-of-living crisis, have filled the pockets of rich shareholders,” McCarthy Flynn concluded.


Contact: Clare Cronin - External Communications Manager, email: clare.cronin@oxfam.org, mobile:+353 (0) 87 195 2551


Posted In:

Oxfam reaction to the ‘IPCC’s Synthesis Report (SYR)’ – a blog on a mouthful of acronyms!

Oxfam Ireland’s Simon Murtagh responds to today’s publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Synthesis Report (SYR).

Today’s IPCC Report makes clear that this is literally the last chapter. The science shows that limiting global heating to 1.5°C is still possible - but only just. Unless we pull the emergency brake on deadly carbon pollution, ‘unheard-of’ heatwaves, storms, droughts and floods will continue to become more frequent and hit more places and people.

People living in poverty are bearing the brunt of these climate-induced crises, including mass hunger happening now in East Africa, with a rise of just 1.1°C.

There is vast inequality in our world and also in how much climate damage we do – the richest 1% of society create more emissions than the whole of the bottom half of humanity, and their share of global emissions is growing rapidly. So, we’re all in this together - but some of us have a much greater contribution to make.

To stay within the 1.5°C ‘guardrail’ that the IPCC urgently recommends, every person on earth would need to stay below an average of 2.2 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year by 2030. The richest 1 percent use up this remaining ‘carbon budget’ in just 12 days each year, while the poorest 50 percent of humanity doesn’t even emit half of their carbon budget over an entire year. This inequality is absolutely ridiculous.

In Ireland, our climate strategy has been described as “kicking the can down the road”, and this IPCC report shows that our leaders are acting like much of the rest of the rich world - burying their head in the ‘business-as-usual’ of fossil fuel subsidies and a blind faith in mystical ‘technofixes’ that will save us from our fate - some day.

The outcome of this will be ‘overshoot’ – a scenario in which we have used up all our carbon budgets before their term, resulting in irreparable damage to people and planet. We are failing to live within our current national carbon budget in Ireland of 295 million tonnes (megatonnes, or mts) of greenhouse gases per year and we have already spent 23.5 per cent of the five-year budget before the 2022 figures have even emerged. We must resist this trend and frontload our climate and biodiversity actions now.

For more, the IPCC’s website is something I’d really recommend – their reports are really clear and beautifully illustrated with graphics and graphs.

Check it out here and, if we can link you to them and you can read the science for yourself, that’s one good job Oxfam Ireland has done today.

It’s outrageous that after six massive IPCC reports, 27 climate change conferences and the eight hottest years on record —with emissions still rising— governments continue to encourage the oil and gas industry to drill deeper and wider for fossil fuels. More than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists were at COP27 and an oil boss will lead the next climate talks in Dubai.

Oil giants raked in record profits in 2022. They are extracting these riches from a stricken planet. Their statements of ecological concern ring hollow. If governments had clawed back the massive profits that oil and gas producers funneled to their rich shareholders last year, they could have increased global investments in renewable energy by nearly one-third.

We can tackle the climate crisis and end poverty. This is not an either or. If the richest 1 percent stopped squandering so much carbon on private jets, big polluting cars and investments in fossil fuels, the poorest half of humanity could grow and flourish, and suffer fewer climate disasters, and look to the future with much greater confidence.

Notes to editors

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the past eight years were the warmest on record globally, fueled by ever-rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat.

At least 363 fossil fuel lobbyists were granted access to COP27.

Big Oil more than doubled its profits in 2022 to $219 billion, more than the GDP of many countries. According to Janus Henderson Investors, the dividends of oil and gas producers totaled $151.8 billion in 2022. The IEA reports that $472 billion was invested in renewable power in 2022. (151.8/472)*100 equals 32.2 percent.

Oxfam’s research found that the investments of just 125 billionaires emit 393 million tons of CO2e each year —the equivalent of France— at an individual annual average that is a million times higher than someone in the bottom 90 percent of humanity.

According to the World Inequality Lab, eradicating global poverty below $5.50 would entail an increase in carbon emissions of approximately 18 percent. This is roughly equivalent to the emissions of the richest 1 percent (15 percent between 1990 and 2015).


Posted In:

Learning Lessons from COVID-19 Global Vaccine Inequity

Oxfam Ireland today published a report ‘Everyone for Themselves How Ireland Undermined Efforts to Fully Vaccinate the World against COVID-19' showing how Ireland undermined international efforts to make vaccines available to low-income countries. There is an opportunity now to make sure that future pandemics don’t repeat this disastrous outcome: Countries of the World Health Organisation have begun negotiations on a Pandemic Treaty.

‘Everyone for Themselves How Ireland Undermined Efforts to Fully Vaccinate the World against COVID-19'

The report, “Everyone for Themselves - How Ireland Undermined Efforts to Fully Vaccinate the World against COVID-19” was launched in the Oireachtas today. This report details Irish government opposition to a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. This runs contrary to the government’s claims that they were a very strong supporter of global vaccine equity.

Oxfam’s detailed analysis of Irish government actions during the pandemic is under three key main headings.

  1. The failure to support the TRIPS[ii] waiver, against advice from the WHO, over 100 countries, two Irish parliamentary committees and the Seanad. The government’s position instead aligned with the pharmaceutical industry’s interests and stance. The report contains an analysis of the lobbying records from the pharmaceutical industry.
  2. Their preferred option was vaccine donations, and this was problematic. For one, the hoarding of more vaccines than was needed limiting access to low-income countries. Oxfam’s analysis also found donations were 20% short with 12% of vaccines close to expiry[iii]. In addition, we did not supply the most effective vaccines for the recipient countries[iv].
  3. They failed to provide adequate funding to strengthen health care systems in poorer countries to aid distribution of vaccines.

Overall, the WHO, World Health Organization, calculated that Ireland provided just 6% of our “fair share” of funding to support the response to COVID-19 globally.

“Happily, the worst effects of COVID are behind us in Ireland but we have to remember that over 6,000 people are still dying every week from COVID 19 . In low-income countries, just 23% of people are fully vaccinated. The cost of COVID continues to be enormous. It is estimated that it pushed 163 million people into poverty and set global development back by at least a decade,” -Michael McCarthy Flynn Oxfam Ireland's Head of Policy and Advocacy.

“Our report shows Ireland actively contributed to a human rights violation and we’re calling today for the government to turn this appalling record around with a set of recommendations. The most immediate of which is that Ireland’s global response should be included in the upcoming State inquiry into COVID 19,” said Oxfam Ireland’s Head of Policy and Advocacy (and report co-author), Michael McCarthy Flynn.

“This is far from a matter of historical interest,” said Michael McCarthy Flynn. “Future pandemics are a certainty, and we have to learn from past mistakes and do better for all our sakes.”

Pandemic Treaty – A Chance to Avoid a Repeat of the Deadly Inequalities of COVID 19

Oxfam Ireland’s report was launched a week after the Irish negotiators returned from Geneva, where the WHO countries met for the fourth round of meetings to negotiate a pandemic treaty.

WHO Member States have been negotiating a new legal instrument (often called a ‘pandemic treaty’) since late 2021 so that countries can effectively, and equitably address future pandemics.

Negotiations on the draft will continue over the next year with the aim of adopting the instrument by 2024. Ireland is engaging in negotiations as an EU member state and through officials in the Department of Health working with Ireland's Permanent Representation to the UN in Geneva. 

Oxfam, as a founding member of the People’s Vaccine Alliance has been putting forward proposals for a people-centred pandemic treaty with commitments and practical mechanisms for pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery based on human rights and equity principles.

Our proposals cover key issues that must be addressed in the treaty including: innovation and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and treatments; sharing data and technology; building resilient health systems; transparency; and financing pandemic preparedness and response.

On 1 February, The WHO’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) published a ‘zero-draft’ of the pandemic treaty. This formed the basis for negotiations on the final document. The zero-draft contains key principles for achieving a better and more equitable way of preventing, preparing for and responding to pandemics, addressing critical issues on access to technologies. However, the negotiations have so far failed to produce concrete commitments and enforceable measures for vaccine sharing in future pandemics. Accord language must require governments to take specific actions to ensure equity, otherwise it would be difficult to implement it in practice. It must include concrete commitments and practical mechanisms, obligations, requirements and enforceable measures, rather than being limited to promotions and encouragements. 

We need more than just words. The pandemic treaty must include commitments by Governments to sharing medical technology and knowhow. The intellectual property rules that upheld the devastating vaccine inequity of COVID-19 must be waived automatically when a health emergency is declared. Governments must place conditions to ensure that publicly funded innovations are available to manufacturers in the Global South. Oxfam’s report shows that vaccine donation doesn’t work. Manufacturers in the Global South must be able to make the necessary vaccines and medical countermeasures. This is critical to controlling pandemics, which will ultimately save lives everywhere and make sure that people in lower-income countries aren’t forced to wait at the back of the line for vaccines, tests, and treatments.

[ii] TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) is a World Trade Organisation Agreement that protects intellectual property, including patents on medicines produced by pharmaceutical companies.
[iii] The above figures are correct as of Nov. 2022.
[iv] See footnote 13 in the Report.

Posted In:

Survival of the Richest: How billionaires are amassing eye-watering wealth amid crisis

Ten years ago, Oxfam first sounded the alarm at the World Economic Forum, about extreme levels of inequality. Since then, billionaires have almost doubled their wealth and astoundingly since 2020, the richest 1% have snatched-up almost twice as much as the rest of the world combined.

Hundreds of millions are facing impossible rises in the cost of living, and millions are reeling from the pandemic which has already killed over 20 million people. These crises all have winners. The very richest have become dramatically richer and corporate profits have hit record highs, driving an explosion of inequality.

The very existence of billionaires and record profits while poverty and inequality are both on the rise damning proof of a failing economic system. As a starting point toward reducing extreme inequality, the world should aim to dramatically reduce the wealth and number of billionaires between now and 2030, both by increasing taxes on the top 1% and adopting other billionaire-busting policies.


To better understand the rise in energy and food prices, we need to look beyond the logic of supply and demand. Growing evidence points to corporate profits as a significant driver of inflation. Not only are companies passing increased input costs onto consumers, but they are also capitalizing on the crisis, using it as a smokescreen to charge even higher prices.

Oxfam’s analysis of 95 food and energy corporations found that they made $306 billion in windfall profits in 2022; 84% of this being paid to their shareholders, making the already rich, even richer. Governments could raise vital revenue to help fight inequality by implementing one-off taxes on excessive profits and wealth during crises.


The traditional explanation for soaring inflation is that it occurs when demand exceeds supply and pushes up prices, but this logic only partly explains the rising cost of energy and food. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia did lead to reduced gas supply which contributed to an increase in the global price of energy. In the case of food, prices were already rising sharply long before the war, and the interruption of grain supplies from Ukraine made this problem worse.

Food and energy corporations have maintained high prices without the threat of being undercut by competition, and as prices on their end fall, these savings are being passed to their shareholders rather than consumers. This greed-flation led to food and energy companies more than doubling their profits in 2022, paying out $257 billion to wealthy shareholders, while over 800 million people go to bed hungry every night.

Cost of Living Crisis

One constant of the last two-and-a-half decades has been the steady decline in extreme poverty. This progress has now ground to a halt as extreme wealth and extreme poverty have increased simultaneously for the first time in 25 years. 

There historically have been progressive measures to curb excessive wealth and power of the super-rich during global crisis by increasing taxation of the richest. We can learn from Costa Rica that increased its top rate of income tax by 10 percentage points, from 15% to 25%, and Bolivia and Argentina introduced wealth and solidarity taxes on their richest citizens. This spirit of solidarity boosts public spending and to fight inequality and limit suffering of ordinary citizens


When economic crisis hits, ordinary working people are first in line for pay cuts and job losses. In 2020, COVID-19 sparked lockdowns and an unprecedented global economic slowdown. This led to working-hour losses approximately four times greater than during the global financial crisis of 2008, with women and racialized groups being the hardest hit.

Oxfam analysis shows that at least 1.7 billion workers worldwide will have seen a real-terms pay cut in 2022, making it more challenging to feed their families or keep the lights and heating on. We urgently need greater taxation of the ultra-rich and corporations as a measure to fight inflation and inequality.


Oxfam is calling on governments to take immediate measures to increase taxation on the richest, including permanent increases to tax on their incomes and capital, one-off taxes to end crisis profiteering, and taxes on their wealth that are high enough to significantly reduce inequality. It’s time to fight inequality by taxing the rich.

Posted In: