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Academic calls for North to South 'climate reparations'

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-07-25 09:55


The Global North should make reparations to compensate the Global South for the damage caused by their past and continuing excessive carbon emissions, Jeremy Webb, a former Australian diplomat and a researcher in environmental economics at the Queensland University of Technology New Zealand, said in an article published on the Pearls and Irritations website on July 18.

Webb argued the Global North is responsible for current excesses of carbon emissions. According to calculations by academic Jason Hickel and colleagues, on a cumulative basis the calculated share of emissions is 26 percent for the US and the European Union is 23 percent. For China, it is 12 percent, and India rates a mere 3 percent.

If a per-capita fair share basis is introduced with an allowance for the effect on carbon emissions from trade, Hickel's finding shows the Global North, with only 10 percent of the world's population, accounted for 92 percent of the dangerous rise in carbon emissions in 2015. The US and the EU in particular overshot their rightful share by 40% and 30%, respectively.

Academics such as Hickel point out the Global North's unsustainable consumption has downstream effects, with the Global South bearing around 80 percent of the costs of climate change, Webb noted. Given the financial burden of climate change on the Global South, estimates indicate a need for significant resource transfers, possibly reaching $2.3 trillion by 2030. However, current financial flows fall far short of this requirement.

Webb stressed that there is a critical need for a substantial increase in North/South financial flows to address the pressing challenges of climate change. Without such a surge in financial support, Webb warned the Global South will be left vulnerable and ill-equipped to defend against the devastating effects of climate change. Failure on the part of the Global North to make significant adjustments to their consumption patterns will lead to a considerable overshooting of the 1.5 C warming limit that is already underway.

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