Fossil fuel firms owe climate reparations of $209bn a year, says study

Date: Friday, May 16, 2023
Complete Article: The Guardian


The world’s top fossil fuel companies owe at least $209bn in annual climate reparations to compensate communities most damaged by their polluting business and decades of lies, a new study calculates.

[T]he largest 21 polluters [are] responsible for $5.4tn in drought, wildfires, sea level rise, and melting glaciers among other climate catastrophes expected between 2025 and 2050, according to groundbreaking analysis published in the journal One Earth. It is the first time researchers have quantified the economic burden caused by individual companies that have extracted – and continue to extract – wealth from planet-heating fossil fuels.

The paper presents a moral case for the carbon corporations most responsible for the climate breakdown to use some of their “tainted wealth” to compensate victims.

The study considers this to be a substantial yet conservative price tag, as the methodology excludes the economic value of lost lives and livelihoods, species extinction and other biodiversity loss, as well as other wellbeing components not captured in GDP.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg of long-term climate damages, mitigation, and adaptation costs,” said co-author Richard Heede, co-founder and director of Climate Accountability Institute.

Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a climate and energy thinktank based in Kenya, said: “The case is clear for oil and gas companies to pay reparations for the harm their fossil fuels have caused. Not only has their dirty energy wrecked the climate, they have [in many cases] spent millions of dollars on lobbying and misinformation to prevent climate action.”

Overall, global economic damages to be expected from the climate crisis are estimated at $99tn between 2025 and 2050 – of which fossil fuel emissions are responsible for $69.6tn, according to more than 700 climate economists.

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