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Climate damage: How and why rich countries should pay up

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The people and industries of the world's richest countries have done the most to heat the planet. But they're terrified of being held liable for extreme weather they've made more violent. Meanwhile, the poorest can't afford to pay for the consequences of other people's pollution. So should the rich world be paying climate reparations – and what's the best way to do so?

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The case for climate reparations

Climate reparations are a necessary and just response to the historical and ongoing exploitation of natural resources by industrialized nations that have disproportionately contributed to global carbon emissions. The impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, droughts, and extreme weather events, have disproportionately affected the world's poorest and most vulnerable communities, who have contributed the least to the problem. Climate reparations would acknowledge and address the harm caused by wealthy nations, providing financial support to those who have suffered and investing in sustainable development to prevent future harm.

Ways to raise the funds for climate reparations

At COP 27, developing nations agreed to set up a fund for loss and damages. At COP 28, they will decide how to raise those funds and how they get allocated. The Island Nation of Vanuatu wrote up a bill of what this might look like.

Below is a short list of ways to put that money together.

- Carbon taxes or carbon pricing on industries and corporations that emit high levels of greenhouse gases.

- Redirecting subsidies currently given to fossil fuel companies towards climate adaptation and mitigation measures.

- Implementing a financial transaction tax, where a small percentage of each transaction made in the financial sector is set aside for climate reparations.

- Issuing green bonds or sustainability-linked bonds to raise funds for climate projects.

- Introducing a global aviation or shipping tax, where a small levy is placed on international flights or shipping to raise funds for climate reparations.

- Establishing a climate finance facility, where a fund is created to provide loans to developing countries for climate adaptation and mitigation projects.


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