Who has to pay the costs of climate change?

September 29, 2022

Who has to pay the costs of climate change?

Vivian Elion
September 29, 2022

Who has to pay the costs of climate change?

Issuing appeals for hundreds of millions in emergency funding to help victims of climate change might soon be a standard procedure.
Vivian Elion
September 29, 2022
Who has to pay the costs of climate change?
Vivian Elion
Maya Turolla
September 29, 2022
Design by Esmée van Dam. © FreedomLab

The recent floods in Pakistan are just one example of how climate change hits poor countries the hardest. Tragically, these countries are the victim of a problem caused by others. It is thus no wonder that Pakistan is now asking the West to pay for the estimated $10 billion of damage caused by the floods. So far, only limited support has been committed to Pakistan and rich economies still refuse to accept responsibility for climate change in general. This could very well be a case of penny wise and pound foolish. First, there is a moral obligation to take responsibility for our extremely high carbon footprint. Per capita, rich economies emit 23 times more than developing economies and it thus clear who caused the problem in the first place. Second, if we don’t support these nations in their struggle against climate change, they are unlikely to contribute to global climate mitigation efforts. Third, the West is bound to lose geopolitical leverage in developing regions. China and Saudi Arabia, for example, will continue to invest billions of dollars in Pakistan and these investments are all about geopolitical and geo-economic ambitions and have little to do with sustainable development. All in all, refusing to support Pakistan and other victims of climate change may save some money on the short term, but it will cost us dearly on the long term.

Burning questions:
  • To what extent can individual companies also be held accountable, given their contribution to climate change?
  • Will it ever be possible to distinguish ‘regular’ natural disasters from climate-related ones?
About the author(s)
With an eye on sustainability and societal well-being, Vivian specializes in the development and facilitation of solutions for fundamental sustainable transitions in society and the economy. Together with partners and clients within and outside the organization, she translates the FreedomLab framework on Deep Transitions to concrete workshop methods, business model innovations and investment opportunities. Vivian studied Global Business and Sustainability at Erasmus University Rotterdam, where she conducted research on how systems thinking and a paradox perspective can resolve conflicting tensions in corporate sustainability. Next to the development and operationalization of the framework, she is the driving force behind the creation of a sustainability strategy for all of Rasile Group's entities.‍
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