In August, Pakistan was devastated by catastrophic flooding. The unprecedented monsoon rains killed more than 1,500 people and left the inundated country with economic damages exceeding $30bn (£27bn). Within a month, a scientific study had concluded the high rainfall was “likely increased” by climate change.
The link between greenhouse gas emissions and extreme weather events already happening today is now well established. Events such as Pakistan’s floods, Madagascar cyclones and Somalia’s drought are becoming more intense and more frequent due to climate change. They have led to death and destruction and left countries facing immense economic damages, plunging them into debt and diverting funds away from other critical areas, such as healthcare and education.
What’s more, these impacts are only set to get worse. If global temperatures were to rise by 2.9C, the average GDP of the world’s 65 most climate-vulnerable countries will fall by 20% by 2050 and 64% by 2100.
As such climate threats become a larger part of our lives, many argue that the countries and companies responsible for the pollution in the first place should be the ones footing bill.
So what if we lived in a world where polluters really did pay for the climate damage they have caused? How much would they need to cough up, and would these payouts signal the end of the fossil fuel industry? Would this funding ever be able to alleviate the harm done? And could it mean the world’s most vulnerable countries recover from climate disasters and adapt to looming threats? [Continue reading…]