At the ILO, Lula advocates taxing the super-rich to pay for energy transition and create 'Global South's AI'

'Income concentration is so absurd that some people have their own space programs,' says the Brazilian president

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
President Lula spoke at the opening ceremony of the International Labor Organization (ILO) - Ricardo Stuckert / PR

The world has a record number of billionaires and, therefore, taxing the super-rich is the best alternative to financing the energy transition, particularly in developing countries. That’s the idea proposed by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Workers’ Party) on Thursday (13) during his speech at the opening ceremony of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland, which focuses on social justice.

“We have never had so many billionaires before. Three thousand people have about USS$ 15 trillion. It surpasses the GDP of countries like Japan, the UK, Germany and India together, and is more than the estimated cost for developing countries to lead in a climate change scenario,” he stated.

“Income concentration is so absurd that some people have their own space programs. They are, certainly, trying to find a planet better than Earth, to avoid staying among the workers who build their wealth.”

Lula said that “We don’t need Mars; the Earth is our home,” highlighting, however, that “the planet can’t take it anymore.” The Brazilian president also said that COP30, to be held in November 2025 in the city of Belém, will be an opportunity for the world – which is used to voice opinions on Amazon – to “listen to what the Amazon has to say about itself.”

In addition to defending a global coalition against hunger and poverty and for the end of permanent seats at the ILO, Lula said that the world needs a “new social contract that places the human being at the center of public policies.” He also talked about the use – and dominance – of artificial intelligence tools.

“We need a Global South’s AI project,” the Brazilian politician said, stressing that these tools are the use of personal data by private companies. "Changing this situation is a revolutionary task,” he concluded.

Lula announced a partnership between the Brazilian government and US President Joe Biden to promote decent work around the world. Officialized in September last year, it's an unprecedented measure between the two countries and aims to tackle labor precariousness.

Watch Lula's annuncement (in Portuguese)


The conference in Geneva began on June 3 and brought together 187 ILO member states. The Brazilian delegation includes members of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary powers, as well as civil society, workers' unions and companies. Minister Luiz Marinho joined them on Monday (10).

After the conference in Geneva, Lula traveled to Italy where he is taking part in the G7 Summit, the meeting of leaders from the seven largest economies in the world. The event takes place from June 13 to 15 in Borgo Egnazia, in the Puglia region, in the country's southern region. In addition to extended working meetings, the president's agenda includes bilateral meetings with authorities.

Edited by: Rodrigo Durão Coelho