Making Polluters Pay: Estimates for corporate climate debt and reparations
9 November 2022
The question of who pays for climate change is fundamental to climate justice. Within the UNFCCC, it has long been recognised and agreed that rich and lower income countries have “common but differentiated responsibilities” for climate change (meaning that all should take action but some bear a greater responsibility than others), and that rich countries should transfer finance as an obligation to the global south. Yet the current levels of financial transfers are completely insufficient to support adaptation and mitigation in the global south, there is no funding for the loss and damage caused by climate change, and the question of who pays within rich countries has been left unresolved. This paper argues that fossil fuel corporations in the global north have a distinct responsibility for creating and accelerating climate chaos, and as such should make reparations to affected communities. One key element in any such reparative process would be to tax corporations significantly more, and to use at least some of the funds to provide increased financial transfers to the global south.