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Climate Reparation

  • Published
    8th Sep, 2022
Context

Facing the worst flooding disaster in its history, Pakistan has begun demanding reparations, or compensation, from the rich countries that are mainly responsible for causing climate change.

About
  • The current floods in Pakistan have already claimed over 1,300 lives, and caused economic damage worth billions of dollars.
  • Pakistan’s demand for reparations appears to be a long shot, but the principles being invoked are fairly well-established in environmental jurisprudence.
  • In fact, Pakistan is not alone in making this demand.
  • Almost the entire developing world, particularly the small island states, has for years been insisting on setting up an international mechanism for financial compensation for loss and damage caused by climate disasters.

About Climate reparations:

  • Climate reparations refer to a call for money to be paid by the Global North to the Global South as a means of addressing the historical contributions that the Global North has made (and continues to make) toward climate change.
  • It is important that the Global North own up to that responsibility of paying what they are due to the Global South.
  • Climate reparations are also about the need for acknowledgment and accountability for the loss of land and culture—and how that has affected us in the Global South—as a result of climate change.

Who is Responsible for Climate Change?

  • In the climate change framework, the burden of responsibility falls on those rich countries that have contributed most of the greenhouse gas emissions since 1850, generally considered to be the beginning of the industrial age.
  • The United States and the European Union, including the UK, account for over 50% of all emissions during this time.
  • If Russia, Canada, Japan, and Australia too are included, the combined contribution goes past 65%, or almost two-thirds of all emissions.
  • Historical responsibility is important because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, and it is the cumulative accumulation of carbon dioxide that causes global warming.
  • A country like India, currently the third largest emitter, accounts for only 3% of historical emissions.
  • China, which is the world’s biggest emitter for over 15 years now, has contributed about 11% to total emissions since 1850.

Need of climate reparations:

  • While the impact of climate change is global, it is much more severe on the poorer nations because of their geographical locations and weaker capacity to cope.
  • Countries that have had negligible contributions to historical emissions and have severe limitations of resources are the ones that face the most devastating impacts of climate change.
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