Should developed countries pay climate compensation?

30 September 2021

By Josh P

As the COP26 summit in Glasgow approaches, many eyes across the globe are focusing on climate change. Prior to the summit in November, Bangladesh has claimed that developed countries should compensate poorer countries impacted by climate issues largely caused by pollution.

The calls for this compensation have come from the Bangladeshi Minister for Foreign Affairs, AK Abdul Momen. Speaking to ITV News, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said: “it is fair and just for these bigger countries to pay compensation because they are the ones that abuse the resources and spoil planet Earth”.

It is interesting to explore these claims. While you might argue that all countries are responsible for climate damage, there is solid evidence that suggests smaller countries (such as Bangladesh) are being unfairly impacted by the damage caused to the global climate.

One key piece of evidence is that the impact of climate change on Bangladesh is extremely high in comparison to their yearly emissions. Per year, Bangladesh contributes to 0.4% of global emissions, however, they lose almost 2% of their GDP in tackling climate-caused problems.

Considering their relatively small contribution to global emissions, you can understand why they feel they should be compensated for the damage climate change is having on their country.

There is definitely a clear imbalance in how much damage larger countries are causing globally compared to smaller countries. From this perspective, some form of compensation to support countries with small carbon footprints who are impacted by climate issues seems fair.

Another key consideration is that science often overlooks smaller, developing countries. While climate reports often account for the entire planet, the majority of research is based primarily on the larger countries.

As a result of this, the issues and needs of developing countries are often lost. The sixth assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reflected on global climate issues, however, only 35% of the writers were from developing countries.

There is certainly an evident disparity between the attention paid to the issues of major countries, versus developing ones. I think there should definitely be more work done to rectify this.

In terms of the proposal of climate compensation, I would agree it is a relatively fair idea. Obviously, a discussion would need to be had to determine how this would work, but it is certainly clear that countries with higher emissions are having a large impact on smaller developing countries.

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