Global South: No climate justice without climate reparations

climate reparations - climateaction

Global South: No climate justice without climate reparations

The world is facing an existential climate crisis that is threatening living species and ecosystems. This crisis is bringing about a lot of controversial issues, one of which is the question of what rich countries, who are mostly responsible for climate change, owe developing countries, who are suffering the worst of its consequences.


This question is especially important in the climate crisis conversation because climate change is not only a fundamental justice and ethical issue, but also constitutes a human rights challenge. This is for the fact that climate change, apart from inhibiting efforts to promote conditions for people to thrive and secure their welfare via the execution of human rights, also disproportionately impacts poor and vulnerable people in both low-income and high-income countries.


These people, even though they have barely contributed to the problem, are subject to the worst impacts of climate change and have little or no resources and capacity to adapt to these impacts.


Drawing from the human rights principles of accountability and redress for human rights violations, the world needs to make amends and respond to this injustice through climate reparations.


Climate reparations simply refer to a call for the Global North (rich or developed countries) to pay the Global South (poor or developing countries) as a way of addressing the historical contributions that the former has made/is making toward climate change.


Climate reparations go beyond money (that would make it climate aid, right?). They ensure that the Global North acknowledges and is accountable for its role in the climate-induced destruction impacting the countries in the Global South.


These climate reparations can be in form of a massive increase in global climate funding through grants instead of loans or loan assistance.


According to reports, In 2019, about 71% of climate finance was loan-based while as of the last quarter of 2021, the majority of climate finance that the Global North was giving the Global South was in form of loans. This does not, in any way, favor the Global South because when they take these loans, they have to pay interest, and then the money keeps piling.


However, when climate finance is grant-based, it would help these developing countries avoid a further plunge into global debt.


There are developing countries already indebted to these developed countries and these debts have nothing to do with the climate crisis.


The Global North should also consider debt cancellation as part of climate reparations and justice. These debts don’t have to be the ones accrued through climate finance.


Developing countries need to start taking climate reparation talks seriously. They need to be heard, they need justice. Beyond that, they need to be deliberate about framing.


Remember, climate reparations aren’t climate aid. It’s not the Global North doing them a favor. They deserve it.

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