The Prime Minister was landing in New York on Sunday night, and will sit down for a face-to-face meeting with one of the world’s richest men – before he heads to Washington for a summit at the White House
Boris Johnson will today challenge Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to pay more company tax in the UK as he kicks off his first visit to the United States since the election.
The Prime Minister will sit down with the multi-billionaire in New York on Monday ahead of meetings on climate change at the United Nations and with Joe Biden at the White House.
Mr Bezos, one of the richest men in the world, has stepped back from running Amazon to focus on climate change projects, but the UK wants his business to do more.
The online giant’s climate footprint is rising as a result of an increase in deliveries and packaging and it is struggling to cut down on pollution.
The Government also wants big tech firms like Amazon to pay more tax in the UK where online sales have soared during the pandemic.
Ahead of the talks, the PM’s official spokesman said: “You can expect the PM to raise this important issue.
“As you know we have been an advocate for an international solution to the tax challenges posed by the digitalisation of the economy.”
He added: “We fully recognise that while it is one of the largest companies in the world, Amazon also has a role in addressing issues of climate change and bio-diversity”.
The online shopping giant’s latest financial results show it paid £492m in direct taxation in the UK as its sales rose 50% during the Covid pandemic.
But Amazon and other tech firms, which pay tax on profits rather than sales, have come under growing pressure to make a fairer contribution to British coffers.
That figure includes employer’s national insurance, business rates, stamp duty and corporation tax.
But its key UK business paid just £3.8m more corporation tax last year than in 2019, even as sales grew to £1.89 billion.
Ministers have been urged by the unions to “get a grip” on the firm which has been accused of “profiteering” on the backs of workers and criticised over its environmental impact.
Mr Johnson sits down with President Biden at the White House on Tuesday to try to build bridges after the chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
The UK is among the countries trying to agree a humanitarian aid package for the country which is now under hardline Taliban rule.
The PM will also try to mend the rift with the US President over the Northern Ireland border as he seeks to strike a post-Brexit trade deal.
In Washington he will meet a series of Congressional leaders including Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, leading Republican Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
He will attempt to sooth their nerves over his post-Brexit plans for the Northern Ireland border which they fear could undermine the fragile peace process.
Mr Johnson regards a trade deal with the US as a big Brexit prize but any deal has to be signed off by the US Congress, and senior Government insiders admit it is proving difficult.
The PM’s wife Carrie Johnson, who is expecting their second child at Christmas, is not accompanying him on the trip.
He will also address the UN General Assembly on climate change, meet vice-president Kamala Harris and attend a star-studded reception at the British Embassy in Washington.
PM to discuss climate change with climate denier Bolsonaro
The world’s richest countries will be urged by Boris Johnson on Monday to fulfil their $100bn pledge to help developing countries cut carbon emissions.
Downing Street fears that global efforts could fall short ahead of the key COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November which it hopes will promote Britain as a global leader.
Mr Johnson will kick off his visit to the United Nations general assembly in New York with a round table of world leaders on climate change co-hosted by the UN Secretary General.
He will also hold a series of face-to-face meetings including with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate denier who has permitted destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
The PM will visit Washington on Tuesday where he will urge President Joe Biden to fulfil America’s green commitments and provide more cash to tackle climate change.
REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo)
At the UN, Mr Johnson will urge world leaders to “take concrete action on coal, climate, cars and trees” but faces an uphill struggle persuading them to do more.
Ahead of the Paris Agreement, wealthy countries promised to give $100bn a year to help developing countries cut emissions, minimise impacts of climate change and adapt economies.
But while green issues have become a major focus, the developed nations have failed to reach the target, with just $80bn raised last year.
At the G7 Summit in June, another $4bn a year was pledged in additional finance but critics have warned it is nowhere near enough.
With less than 50 days until the COP26 summit, Mr Johnson is concerned that time is running out to step up public and private finance flows to help the countries most vulnerable to climate change.
The UK will commit an extra £550m to developing countries to phase out coal and move to clean energy.
The PM faces a battle with his new ‘red wall’ MPs over his domestic green pledges as many are concerned about rising utility prices and the impact on consumers of the changes.
Ahead of the summit, Mr Johnson said: “In coming together to agree the $100bn pledge, the world’s richest countries made an historic commitment to the world’s poorest – we now owe it to them to deliver on that.
“Richer nations have reaped the benefits of untrammelled pollution for generations, often at the expense of developing countries.
“As those countries now try to grow their economies in a clean, green and sustainable way we have a duty to support them in doing so – with our technology, with our expertise and with the money we have promised.”
COP26 President Alok Sharma insisted today that the AUKUS deal, which infuriated the French, would not undermine this week’s big push for global cooperation on climate change.
The security pact which Britain and the US struck with Australia last week includes the US providing nuclear-powered submarines, a show of strength aimed at China.
But it sparked a diplomatic row with France as it meant Canberra cancelled a $90 billion order with Paris to provide diesel-powered subs.
Mr Sharma said: “This is a trilateral deal between three very close partners. This is about the Indo-Pacific, and we’ve been very clear this isn’t about provoking anyone. We want to have good relations with all countries.”
But he admitted that Chinese President Xi Jinping had not yet confirmed he’s attending the Glasgow summit in November.