• Recently, Pakistan is witnessing the worst flooding disaster in its history, therefore it has begun demanding reparations, or compensation, from the rich countries that are mainly responsible for causing climate change.
  • Climate reparations refer to a call for money to be paid by the developed countries to the developing countries as a means of addressing the historical contributions that the Developed countries have made (and continue to make) toward climate change.
  • Historical responsibility of the Western nations is important because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, and it is the cumulative accumulation of this carbon dioxide that causes global warming.
  • The concept of the Polluter Pays principle makes the polluter liable for paying not just for the cost of remedial action, but also for compensating the victims of environmental damage caused by their actions.
  • The United States and the European Union, including the UK, account for over 50% of all emissions during the present time.
  • If Russia, Canada, Japan, and Australia too are included, the combined contribution goes past 65% or almost two-thirds of all emissions.
  • Further, a country like India, currently the third largest emitter, accounts for only 3% of historical emissions. Whereas, China, which is the world’s biggest emitter for over 15 years now, has contributed about 11% to total emissions since 1850.
  • The impacts of climate change are much more severe on the poorer nations because of their geographical locations and weaker capacity to cope.
  • This is what is giving rise to demands for loss and damage compensation, 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.
  • Impact on India: The economic loss from cyclone Amphan in India and Bangladesh in 2020 has been assessed at USD 15 billion.

International Conventions say about Climate Responsibility

  • The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the 1994 international agreement that lays down the broad principles of the global effort to fight climate change, explicitly acknowledges this differentiated responsibility of nations.
  • It makes it very clear that rich countries must provide both finance and technology to developing nations to help them tackle climate change.
  • The rich countries agreed to provide USD 100 billion to the developing world every year as a result of this mandate.
  • The promise of USD 100 billion in assistance by developing countries is yet to be completed.
  • According to a recent report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Efforts (UNOCHA), prepared for the UN General Assembly, annual funding requests related to climate-linked disasters averaged USD 15.5 billion in the three-year period between 2019 and 2021.
  • The United States alone is estimated to have “inflicted more than USD 1.9 trillion in damages to other countries” due to its emissions.


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