A new study calculates that rich countries with high greenhouse gas emissions could pay $170 trillion in climate reparations.
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Rich industrialised countries responsible for excessive levels of greenhouse gas emissions could be liable to pay $170tn in climate reparations by 2050 to ensure targets to curtail climate breakdown are met, a new study calculates.
The proposed compensation, which amounts to almost $6tn annually, would be paid to historically low-polluting developing countries that must transition away from fossil fuels despite not having yet used their “fair share” of the global carbon budget, according to the analysis published in the journal Nature Sustainability.
The compensation system is based on the idea that the atmosphere is a commons, a natural resource for everyone which has not been used equitably.
It is the first scheme where wealthy countries historically responsible for excessive or unjust greenhouse emissions including the UK, US, Germany, Japan and Russia, are held liable to compensate countries which have contributed the least to global heating – but must decarbonise their economies by 2050 if we are to keep global heating below 1.5C and avert the most catastrophic climate breakdown.
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In this ambitious scenario, the study found that 55 countries including most of sub-Saharan Africa and India would have to sacrifice more than 75% of their fair share of the carbon budget.
On the other hand, the UK has used 2.5 times its fair allocation, and would be liable to pay $7.7tn for its excessive emissions by 2050. The US has used more than four times its fair share to become the richest country in the world, and would be responsible for $80tn in reparations under this scheme.
The Ireland government is reportedly looking at plans to cull 200,000 cows to meet climate targets.