The world’s top-emitting companies should be made accountable for their role in global warming and pay for the loss and damage suffered in many developing countries according to a new report by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Climate Justice Programme.
Billions of people in poor communities are innocent victims in the climate change equation. They are amongst the lowest polluters in the world, yet they are already suffering from loss and damage caused by climate change. Impacts such as drought and changing rainfall patterns in the Sahel region; sea-level rise and coastal erosion in small islands; the double challenge of rising sea levels and severe cyclones in Bangladesh; and the devastating effect of super-Typhoon Haiyan on the Philippines have already gone beyond the ability of communities to adapt. It is expected that loss and damage from climate change will increase dramatically in the poorest parts of the world.
The international community has taken initial steps to address loss and damage from climate change. In November 2013 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed to establish the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage to: enhance knowledge and understanding of comprehensive risk-management approaches to address loss and damage; strengthen dialogue, coordination, coherence, and synergies; and enhance action and support, including technical support and mobilising finance. These functions of the International Mechanism for Loss and Damage will clearly require funding. Unfortunately, the current level of climate finance under discussion by the international community is grossly inadequate for mitigation and adaptation efforts, without taking loss and damage into consideration. Therefore, a new source of finance is needed.
The climate change already being experienced is the result of the emissions that have been released into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution. A groundbreaking report released in 2013, the Carbon Majors report, established that 63% of carbon emissions in the atmosphere have come from the coal, oil, and gas extracted and cement manufactured by only 90 entities – the «Carbon Majors», which include Chevron, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, BP, Gazprom, and Shell. These entities have made massive profits from extracting and selling the fossil fuels that cause climate change without paying for any of the damage from climate change that their products are causing. These entities therefore have a moral and legal responsibility to provide redress for the loss and damage arising from the emissions their products have caused. Adding a levy to the extraction of fossil fuels can help meet these goals.