Activists have renewed their calls for wealthy, polluting countries to compensate developing countries for the devastating effects caused by the climate crisis following the catastrophic floods in Pakistan.
Just as racial justice activists are calling for compensation for the descendants of enslaved people, activists want to go further and frame the issue as “climate reparations.”
Rather than dedicating funds to building resilience for a rapidly changing planet, green groups are calling for debt cancellation for cash-strapped nations that spend huge portions of their budget servicing external loans.
Although small island nations sensitive to rising sea levels were the first to push the idea, it is gaining momentum again due to catastrophic flooding in Pakistan.
Unprecedented monsoon rains have killed nearly 1,600 people, displaced several million people and caused a loss of around $30 billion.
Compared to the G20 countries, which account for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, poor countries produce less than 1%.
Taking action to change systems and improve infrastructure for changes that are already locked in and reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gases are currently the two-pronged approach used in the international climate response.
Seeking compensation for increased severe weather impacts that countries cannot sustain, calls for “loss and damage” payments go beyond adaptation funding.
While much of the funds raised have taken the form of loans, advanced economies have agreed to channel $100 billion to less developed countries by 2020.
With profits flowing to a small elite, Pakistan’s emissions are growing rapidly despite being low on a global scale.
UN chief Antonio Guterres’ call for “meaningful action” and payment for “loss and damage” has reinforced the concept of reparations, but the issue is sensitive for wealthy countries.
In the Paris Agreement, the United States kept the language regarding “liability and compensation” because it is historically the largest emitter of greenhouse gases and Washington fears this could pave the way for a lawsuit.
(With agency contributions)
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