Rich countries owe US$192 trillion in climate reparations to global South

June 13, 2023
Inset: Farooq Tariq

One of the important themes in the Ecosocialism 2023 conference in Melbourne July 1-2 will be global climate justice. Guest speakers from Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Aotearoa (NZ) and West Papua will join Australian activists and keynote speaker, Kohei Saito, author of Capital In the Anthropocene — which sold more than half a million copies in Japan when it was first published in 2021 — in an important discussion.

A study by Andrew Fanning and Jason Hickel, published in Nature Sustainability on June 2, calculated that compensation of US$192 trillion would be owed by rich countries to the global South for the appropriation of their atmospheric fair shares by 2050.

The study analysed 168 countries and quantified each of these countries historical responsibility for climate breakdown based on excess carbon dioxide emissions beyond equality-based fair shares of global carbon budget estimated by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) required to keep global heating below 1.5°C.



The disparities are stark. The rich countries of the global North (United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Israel) collectively hold responsibility for 91% of cumulative overshoot between 1960 and 2019 of their share of the planetary carbon budget.

The United States alone has used more than four times its fair share of this carbon budget in becoming the richest country in the world. Australia is not far behind, having overshot its share 3.5 times.



The study then calculated the climate reparations that would be owed by the rich to the global South by 2050.

It estimated that the rich countries would collectively owe India US$57 trillion, China (which has only just begun to overshoot its share) US$15 trillion, Sub-Saharan Africa US$45 trillion and the rest of the global South $74 trillion.

 One of the international guest speakers at the Ecosocialism 2023 conference, veteran Pakistani socialist and global climate justice activist Farooq Tariq told Green Left:

"Climate justice demands that the global South no longer be held hostage by the environmental sins of the rich. It is time for wealthy nations to acknowledge their debt to the third world and pay their dues in the form of climate reparations.

“The unchecked industrialisation and excessive carbon emissions of developed countries have plundered the Earth's resources, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable regions. This ecological exploitation has perpetuated a cycle of poverty, displacement, and environmental devastation in the global South. It is an urgent moral imperative for the rich to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions and provide financial and technological support for sustainable development in third world countries.

“Climate reparations are not just a matter of fairness; they are a critical step towards rectifying historical injustices and forging a more equitable and sustainable future for all."

Tariq will be speaking alongside Cheong Huei Ting, the Coordinator for the Environmental and Climate Crisis Bureau of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) and Singapore climate justice activist Kristian-Marc Paul in a session titled “Climate Justice & The Global South” at Ecosocialism 2023. Tickets can be bought here.

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