As per the study published in One Earth magazine, the world's largest fossil fuel companies owe an annual amount of climate reparations of at least $209 billion to compensate communities that have been hit hardest by environmental damage caused by their polluting activities and decades of deceit.
The research identifies BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, Saudi Aramco and Chevron, among others, as the top 21 polluters responsible for a staggering $5.4 trillion in weather-related catastrophes expected to occur between 2025 and 2050. These disasters include droughts, forest fires, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers, among others.
This study marks the first time that researchers have quantified the financial burden imposed by individual companies that have profited from the extraction and use of planet-warming fossil fuels.
With the ongoing debate over who should bear the economic costs of the climate crisis, the paper titled "Time to Pay the Piper" makes a compelling moral case for major carbon-emitting corporations to use a portion of their "polluted wealth" to compensate the victims of their activities.
It is important to note that the study estimate represents a substantial but conservative estimate, as it excludes the economic value of lives and livelihoods lost, species extinction, biodiversity loss, and other non-economic factors that are not captured in GDP measurements.
Co-author Richard Heede, co-founder and director of the Climate Responsibility Institute, stresses that the calculated figure is just the tip of the iceberg on long-term climate damage, as well as the costs associated with mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Top 21 fossil fuel companies
|Groups||Companies||Cumulative emissions 1988–2022 (MtCO2e)||Percent of global emissions||Cumulative reparations 2025–2050 (Billion US$, current)||Average annual reparations 2025–2050 (Billion US$, current)|
|HR||Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia||53,714||4.78%||$1,110||$42.7|
|HR||Abu Dhabi, UAE||15,386||1.37%||$318||$12.2|
|HR||Peabody Energy, USA||13,777||1.23%||$285||$11.0|
|HR||Kuwait Petroleum Corp., Kuwait||11,733||1.04%||$243||$9.3|
|LR||Gazprom, Russian Fed.||50,492||4.49%||$522||$20.1|
|LR||Rosneft, Russian Fed.||11,224||1.00%||$116||$4.5|
|LR||Iraq National Oil Co., Iraq||10,521||0.94%||$109||$4.2|
|Ex||National Iranian Oil Co., Iran||29,212||2.60%||–||–|
|Ex||Coal India, India||26,208||2.33%||–||–|
|Ex||Petroleos de Venezuela, Venezuela||12,898||1.15%||–||–|
Reparations demand grows amid climate crisis
Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a Kenyan climate and energy think tank said that, it is clear that oil and gas companies must be held accountable and pay reparations for the damage caused by their fossil fuels. These companies have not only contributed to climate devastation but have also invested significant amounts of money in lobbying and spreading misinformation to hinder climate action.
In the slow arena of international climate negotiations, the focus on addressing climate impacts and determining financial responsibility has been largely on nation-states. This perspective is widely accepted, considering that the richest 1% of the world's population is responsible for emitting twice as much greenhouse gas as the poorest 50%, who bear the brunt of the resulting damage.
Currently, wealthy nations in the global north have been criticized for under-promising and providing minimal support for climate adaptation efforts in poorer countries.
As the world experiences more frequent and severe consequences of a warming climate, the demand for reparations has grown stronger. The urgency stems from the fact that communities around the world are facing death and destruction at an alarming rate.
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