Some environmentalists and academics argue the companies or states that are most significantly contributing to the climate crisis should be made to compensate the people bearing the brunt of its impacts.
Advocates have been calling for such reparations for years, especially since evidence emerged that fossil fuel companies were aware of the impact of carbon emissions. But the idea is now more practically achievable due to scientific advances, said Adrien Salazar, policy director at the nonprofit Grassroots Global Justice.
He pointed to the increased sophistication of diagnostic techniques such as “attribution science, a rapidly developing field that says when this disaster happens, how much of this is attributed to the climate crisis [and] to the fact that humans have had an impact on the atmosphere.”
Those developments, he said, are going to “help identify with quite some clarity who is responsible for climate pollution and how much going into the future.”
Some advocates for reparations are making specific practical calculations of what they believe is owed. Last week, an analysis published in OneEarth concluded that fossil fuel companies including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron collectively owe $209 billion a year in restitution for the cumulative climate disasters expected to take place by midcentury.
Co-author Richard Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute told The Hill the calculations used data reported by the companies to project their emissions.
“So we can [determine] the estimated emissions from the operational emissions for each company,” Heede said. ”Most of the emissions we attribute to the companies are from consumers using their products as intended.”
The paper identifies the state-owned Saudi Aramco as owing the most to affected parties, at $42.7 billion a year, followed by Russia’s GazProm with $20.1 billion, ExxonMobil with $18.4 billion, Shell with $16.3 billion, BP with $14.5 billion and Chevron with $12.8 billion. The Hill has reached out to the companies for comment.