COP27
Photo credit: Reuters

The COP27 Climate Change Conference is underway in Egypt but failure born of neoliberal greed is already apparent. COP27 is ignoring the fundamental  realities of Carbon Price, Carbon Debt, and the need for the social and environmental cost   of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution to be fully borne by the polluters. This failure condemns the climate change-impacted global South to horrendous Climate Genocide.

International law demands that a country must make “full reparations” for the harm it has caused through internationally harmful acts. However as demonstrated by COP27 and all its predecessor climate conferences, countries disproportionately responsible for greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution ignore this legal obligation. Indeed one surmises that general recognition and public acceptance of the legal requirement for full reparations would have constrained GHG pollution. In vain disproportionately climate change-impacted countries of the Global South are demanding a partially compensatory “loss and damage fund” but climate criminal countries like the US and Australia reject this, offers made so far by a tiny number of global North countries are derisory, and terracidal GHG pollution will continue to inexorably increase.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres gave a stark warning at the November 2022 COP27 conference: “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator. To acknowledge the harsh truth, there is no excellencies. This UN climate conference is a reminder that the answer is in our hands. And the clock is ticking. We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing. Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing, global temperatures keep rising, and our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible” [1, 2].

Tackling climate change means REDUCING greenhouse  gas (GHG) emissions, but as despairingly observed by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (November 2022): “Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing, global temperatures keep rising” [1, 2]. In October 2022 I wrote in Countercurrents: “The 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference committed to ideally less than a plus 1.5 degree Centigrade (+1.5C) temperature rise, and to no more than a catastrophic +2C. The  2021 Glasgow Climate Change Conference [COP26] committed to “net zero emissions by 2050”. However there is no decrease in our record greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, gas, oil, and coal use, or cattle, cement, steel and iron ore production. We are surely doomed by remorseless inaction. There is no decrease in our presently peak global production of coal and methanogenic cattle. The atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4) are remorselessly increasing, as are oil and  gas use.  Greenhouse gas (GHG) producing cement, steel, and iron ore production are all increasing. Humanity should be radically decreasing these terracidal activities but, political rhetoric aside, is damning the planet through  catastrophic global inaction. The biodiversity loss is increasing catastrophically with a species extinction rate (speciescide rate) that is 100-10,000 times greater than the background extinction rate. While the rate of deforestation has decreased 3-fold since 1980, and net re-afforestation of temperate forests is now occurring, the deforestation rate in tropical forests levelled out to an appalling 50 million hectares per decade over the last 2 decades. Unless something radical happens we are doomed, the planet is doomed, and Humanity and the Biosphere face decimation. In vain the climate scientists and biologists report the worsening realities, and plead for action with increasing desperation” [3].

The existential dilemma facing  Humanity is succinctly stated by eminent physicist and one of the world’s greatest minds, eminent physicist the late Stephen Hawking (2018): “We see great peril if governments and societies do not take action NOW [my emphasis] to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change” [4, 5].

But endlessly greedy and neoliberal governments and corporations  continue to ignore the expert scientific advice, and as stated by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres: “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator” [1, 2]. Nevertheless,  a chink of light has been provided at COP27 by disproportionately climate change-impacted  Developing World countries recognizing the damage-related cost of climate change (Carbon Price), and continuing to demand a “loss and damage fund” to help them deal with the consequences of man-made climate change. The climate criminal US and climate criminal US lackey Australia are notably silent but some “civilized” Western countries have offered a grossly insufficient total of less than $300 million for “loss and damage” [6-8].

As systematically set out below, the key reason for the worsening Climate Crisis is global failure to acknowledge and fully apply a damage-related Carbon Price that is $200 per tonne CO2-equivalent (CO2-e), but which is presently applied globally at a meagre  and disastrous average of only $2 per tonne CO2-equivalent – this means a remorselessly increasing and inescapable global Carbon Debt that is presently $250 trillion [5].

(1). The World ignores a damage-related Carbon Price and an inescapable global Carbon Debt of $250 trillion increasing at $16 trillion annually.

The fundamental reason for the appalling global inaction in the worsening Climate Crisis is that governments are presently simply not prepared to recognize, let alone address or meet, the full damage-related cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, otherwise known as the damage-related Carbon Price.  In this terracidal (Earth killing) failure world governments are ignoring the advice of  science-trained Pope Francis in Section 195 of his 2015 encyclical “Laudato si’”: “Yet only when the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations,’ can those [economic] actions be considered ethical” [9-12]. Governments also continue to ignore  the crucial advice on “economic externalities” of  eminent economist Sir Nicholas Stern (2007): “The problem of climate change involves a fundamental failure of markets: those who damage others by emitting greenhouse gases generally do not pay. Climate change is a result of the greatest market failure the world has seen. The evidence on the seriousness of the risks from inaction or delayed action is now overwhelming. We risk damages on a scale larger than the two world wars of the last century. The problem is global and the response must be a collaboration on a global scale” [5, 13, 14].

Climate change economist Dr Chris Hope from 90-Nobel–Laureate University of Cambridge has estimated a damage-related Carbon Price of US$150-$250 per tonne CO2-e (CO2-equivalent) depending on location [15]. Eminent climate scientist Professor James Hansen (100-Nobel-Laureate Columbia University) has estimated a damage-related Carbon Price of about $200 per tonne CO2-e from the cost of reducing atmospheric CO2 [16]. Assuming a damage-related Carbon Price of $200 per tonne CO2-e one can estimate a cost (Carbon Debt) of about $250 trillion (for returning the atmospheric CO2 to a pre-Industrial Revolution level of 280 ppm CO2 from the present dangerous and destructive 420 ppm CO2), and of about $200 trillion (based on historical GHG pollution of the atmosphere).

The global Carbon Debt is about $200-$250 trillion and is increasing at about $16 trillion each year. By way of a national example, climate criminal Australia has a Carbon Debt  of $5 trillion that is increasing at $400 billion each year and at $40,000 per head per year for under-30 year old Australians (if young Australians and their global ilk only knew – the truth is kept from them by cowardly unprincipled,  traitorous and mendacious Mainstream journalist, politician, academic and commentariat presstitutes – there would be a Climate Revolution that  hopefully would be non-violent) [5, 17-20].

(2). Ignoring the Carbon Price and inescapable Carbon Debt is intergenerational theft and will  be horrendously deadly in a worsening Climate Genocide.  

Unlike conventional debt that can be variously evaded by default, running away or printing money, Carbon Debt is inescapable – thus, for example, unless sea walls are built at huge expense, coastal cities, towns and arable land will be devastated . Further, there is a  huge gap between the actually applied global average Carbon Price ($2 per tonne CO2-e) and the actual  Carbon Price that needs to be applied ($200 per tonne CO2-e) [21, 22]. I explained this to some very young relatives after lunch at a restaurant – the restaurant owner gives us a bill for $200 but we tell him that we will only pay $2.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recommended applying an increasing Carbon Price up to $75 per tonne CO2-e by 2030 as a key way of tackling the worsening Climate Crisis. The IMF stated that  failure to do this would cost what would amount to 4 million lives by 2030 [21, 22]. However COP27 shows no appetite by the major polluters to close the nearly $200 per tonne CO2-e gap between the actual damage related Carbon Price ($200 per tonne CO2-e) and the global average applied Carbon Price ($2 per tonne CO2-e). As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated at COP27: “We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing” [1, 2].

Ignoring the Carbon Price is not just simply theft but intergenerational theft and genocidal grand larceny. Air pollution from burning carbon fuels is associated with 9 million deaths annually [23]. 7.4 million people die avoidably  each year from deprivation, overwhelmingly in the Developing World [24]. Climate change will increase this avoidable carnage. Thus it is estimated  that failure to requisitely address climate change will see 10 billion people dying this century in a worsening Climate Genocide en route to a sustainable human population in 2100 of only about 1 billion people [5, 25]. Unfortunately Big Money buys public perception of reality, university education (that can and should be free) has been monetized, and insufficiently aware  populations in the  greed-driven,  rich and neoliberal global North  are stumbling towards a catastrophic disaster that betrays future generations and  will disproportionately impact the global South [26]. This worsening  human disaster is also associated with an immense loss of Biodiversity, with the species extinction rate varying between 100 and 10,000 times greater than normal  [27, 28].

(3). GHG pollution and Carbon Debt of some major polluters.

An issue likely to be neutralized or dismissed by the global North at the November 2022 COP27 climate change conference (at Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt) is a “loss and damage fund” to compensate low greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting nations in the Developing World  for loss and damage that is mainly caused by high GHG emitting countries in the Developed World. It is thus crucial to estimate the post-1750 Historical Carbon Debt for major polluters and for the world as a whole.

The Historical Climate Debt of the World has been estimated at 12 Gt CO2 (12 billion tonnes CO2) in 1751-1900 [29] and at 334 Gt CO2-e for 1901-2008, for a total of 346 Gt CO2-e in the period 1751-2008 [30]. Most of the GHG pollution has occurred in the last half century through land use, deforestation and remorselessly increasing coal, oil and gas exploitation. In a 2008 letter to Australian PM Kevin Rudd, NASA’s Dr James Hansen provided a breakdown of global responsibility for fossil fuel-derived CO2 pollution between 1751 and 2006 [31].

Below are some estimates for some major polluters of 1751-2022 GHG pollution in Gt CO2-e: 1751-2006 CO2 [31] plus 2007-2022 CO2-e (with land use included)  [32, 33] and Carbon Debt in US dollars (assuming a damage-related Carbon Price of $200 per tonne CO2-e), and expressed in USD and as a percentage of the total global Carbon Debt).

India: 9.01 + 41.67 = 50.68 Gt ($10,136 billion; 3.9%)

Japan: 14.05 + 20.88 = 34.93 Gt ($6,986 billion; 2.7%).

UK: 21.63 + 21.00 = 42.63 Gt CO2 ($8,526 billion; 3.3%).

Germany: 23.79 + 22.88 = 46.67 Gt CO2 ($9,334 billion; 3.6%).

Russia: 26.67+ 35.24 = 61.91 Gt CO2 ($12,382 billion; 4.8%).

China: 29.55 + 153.18 = 182.73 Gt CO2 ($36,546 billion; 14.0%).

USA: 99.12 + 199.88 = 299.00 Gt CO2 ($59,800 billion; 22.9%).

Canada-Australia: 11.18 + 46.09 = 57.27 Gt CO2 ($11,454 billion; 4.4%).

Rest of the World: 527.18 Gt CO2 ($105,436 billion; 40.5%).

The World: 346.00 + 957.00 = 1,303.00 Gt CO2-e ($260,600 billion).

This estimate of a post-1750 global Carbon Debt of about $260 trillion is consonant with  the estimated $250 trillion cost of returning the atmospheric CO2 to the pre-Industrial Revolution level of about 280 ppm CO2 from the present circa 420 ppm CO2 (see section (1)[5, 17].

(3). Remorseless greed – why rich  climate criminal countries like the US and Australia oppose “loss and damage” payments to the global South.  

Climate finance for climate change-impacted countries includes finance for (1) cutting emissions, (2) adapting to climate change,  and (3) for loss and damage. Rich climate criminal  countries (like the US and Australia) continue to oppose a “loss and damage fund” out of fear that they will be held accountable for their huge Historical Carbon Debt. However a few rich countries have made tiny “loss and damage” pledges at COP27, including Belgium ($2.5 million), Scotland ($5.7 million on top of $2.2 million offered at COP26), Ireland ($10 million), Denmark ($13 million), New Zealand ($20 million), Austria ($50 million), and Germany (it offered a  $170 million scheme for a kind of climate damage insurance) [6, 34]. However these offers totalling less than $300 million  are dwarfed by the inescapable global Carbon Debt of $250 million million ($250 trillion) that is about 1 million times greater.

You can readily determine the 2007-2022 Carbon Debt of any country of interest from the population and the annual per capita GHG emissions  in about 2013 [32, 33]. Stark comparisons are given by the inescapable 2007-2022 Carbon Debt  of the 0.5 million people of the severely climate change-impacted and steadily submerging island nation of the Maldives ($2.8 billion) [32, 33] as compared to that of  the members of the Anglosphere 5-Eyes intelligence-sharing Club: New Zealand ($736 billion), Australia ($3,808 billion), the UK ($4,200 billion), Canada ($5,410 billion), the US ($40,000 billion). Of the rich Anglosphere 5-Eyes  countries only New Zealand has offered any “loss and damage”  payment, albeit only $20 million or 0.7% of the Carbon Debt of the Maldives – and that is all that is offered for “loss and damage”  by the  national governments of the climate criminal Anglosphere 5-Eyes Club that in the 15 year period alone of 2007-2022 has imposed an inescapable Carbon Debt of $54,154 billion ($54.2 trillion) on the world. To put this in context, in 2021 the world GDP was $96 trillion and the US GDP was $23 trillion.

Climate criminal and US lackey Australia is among world leaders in 16 areas of climate criminality,  and opposes “loss and damage” reparations for very good reason – it is a world leader in exports of coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Australia (population 26 million) has 0.33% of the World’s population of 8.0  billion, but Australia’s  annual Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution of 3.44 Gt CO2-e is 5.4% of the World’s total annual GHG pollution of about 63.8 Gt CO2-e per year. As of 2020 Australia’s Domestic plus Exported Carbon Debt was increasing at 3,438 Mt CO2-e x $200 /t CO2-e =  $688 billion per year or about $700 billion each year [35]. By way of comparison, Australian’s present gross national debt is about $1 trillion.

At the other end of the spectrum we have increasingly climate change-ravaged India, Pakistan and Bangladesh that have (a) annual GHG pollution of 2.69 Gt, 0.48 Gt, and 0.41 Gt, respectively (2013 data)[31], corresponding to (b) an annual Carbon Debt of   $538 billion, $96 billion and $83 billion, respectively, noting that (c) the GDP for these countries is $3,173 billion, $346 billion, and $416 billion, respectively (2021), and that (d)  the annual increase in Carbon Debt as a percentage of GDP is 17.0% (India), 27.6% (Pakistan), and 19.8% (Bangladesh). For these already impoverished global South countries the ultimately inescapable annual increase in Carbon Debt is about 20% of their already very low GDPs,  and they cannot afford to meet the Carbon Debt from their own GHG pollution, let alone that imposed upon them by the rich polluting countries of the global North. GHG pollution,  consequent climate change and climate change impacts respect no national boundaries – thus India’s present population of 1,412 billion (2022) is 17.7% of that of the World, and its notional “share” of the annual damage-related global Carbon Debt increase of $12,760 billion is $2,259 billion (4.1 times greater than the Carbon Debt it created itself in 2013).

The climate criminal global North nations ignore their obligation under International Law to fully compensate by “full reparations” countries suffering “loss and damage” from man-made climate change [36]. The stark message here is that the rich, GHG polluting countries of the global North are knowingly and deliberately committing many of the disproportionately climate-impacted global South countries to catastrophic Climate Genocide  in coming decades. All that decent people can do is to (a) inform everyone they can, (b) do whatever they can to make the future “less bad” for coming generations, and (c) urge Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), Carbon Tariffs and litigation against all people, parties, politicians, corporations and countries disproportionately complicit in the worsening climate crisis.

References.

[1]. Schroders, “COP27 live blog”, November 2022: https://www.schroders.com/en/us/insights/sustainability/cop27–live-blog-schroders-investors-climate-change-net-zero/.

[2]. “UN Secretary-General warns world ‘on a highway to climate hell’”, Video transcript, Yahoo News, 8 November 2022: https://au.news.yahoo.com/un-secretary-general-warns-world-032528599.html .

[3].  Gideon Polya, “Planet Doomed: No Decrease In Record GHGs & Gas, Oil, Coal, Cattle, Cement & Steel Production”, Countercurrents, 16 October 2022: https://countercurrents.org/2022/10/planet-doomed-no-decrease-in-record-ghgs-gas-oil-coal-cattle-cement-steel-production/ .

[4].  Stephen Hawking, “Brief Answers to the Big Questions”, John Murray, UK, 2018.

[5]. Gideon Polya, “Climate Crisis, Climate Genocide & Solutions” , Korsgaard Publishing, Germany, 2020

[6]. David Gelles, “After Decades of Resistance, Rich Countries Offer Direct Climate Aid”, New York Times, 8 November 2022: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/08/climate/loss-and-damage-cop27-climate.html .

[7]. Kate Abnett, “Explainer: COP27: What is ‘Loss and Damage’ compensation, and who should pay?”, Reuters, 7 November 2022: https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/cop27-what-is-loss-damage-compensation-who-should-pay-2022-11-06/ .

[8]. “Country “back at table” on climate: Bowen”, Yahoo Finance, 9 November 2022: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/finance/news/australia-talking-loss-damage-fund-212255588.html .

[9]. Pope Francis , Encyclical Letter “Laudato si’”, 2015: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html .’

[10]. Gideon Polya, “Pope Francis Demands “Fully Borne” Cost of Pollution (Carbon Price) To Prevent “Millions Of Premature Deaths””, Countercurrents, 29 July, 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya290715.htm

[11]. Gideon Polya, “Green Left Pope Francis Demands Climate Action “Without Delay” To Prevent Climate “Catastrophe””, Countercurrents, 10 August, 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya100815.htm .

[12]. Gideon Polya, “Western Mainstream Media Censor Green Left Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si’” Message For Urgent Action On Climate Change”, Countercurrents, 20 August, 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya200815.htm .

[13]. Sir Nicholas Stern, quoted in Alison Benjamin, “Stern: climate change a “market failure”, UK Guardian, 29 November 2007: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/nov/29/climatechange.carbonemissions .

[14]. Gideon Polya, “Detailed Document Exposing Pro-gas Australia Climate Change Inaction”, Countercurrents, 15 March, 2011: https://countercurrents.org/polya150311.htm .

[15]. Dr Chris Hope, “How high should climate change taxes be?”, Working Paper Series, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, 9.2011: http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/research/workingpapers/wp1109.pdf  .

[16]. James Hansen, “Climate change in a nutshell: the gathering storm”, Columbia University, 18 December 2018: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2018/20181206_Nutshell.pdf  .

[17]. Gideon Polya, “Inescapable $200-250 trillion global Carbon Debt increasing by $16 trillion annually”, Countercurrents, 27March 2019: https://countercurrents.org/2019/04/inescapable-200-250-trillion-global-carbon-debt-increasing-by-16-trillion-annually-gideon-polya/ .

[18].  “Carbon Debt Carbon Credit”: https://sites.google.com/site/carbondebtcarboncredit/ .

[19]. “Climate Revolution Now”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/climate-revolution .

[20]. “Climate Justice & Intergenerational Equity”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/climate-justice .

[21]. International Monetary Fund (IMF), “Fiscal Monitor: how to mitigate climate change”. Executive Summary”, September  2019: file:///C:/Users/Gideon/AppData/Local/Temp/execsum-6.pdf   .

[22]. Gideon Polya, “Australia Rejects  IMF Carbon Tax & Preventing  4 Million  Pollution Deaths By 2030”, Countercurrents, 15 October 2019: https://countercurrents.org/2019/10/australia-rejects-imf-carbon-tax-preventing-4-million-pollution-deaths-by-2030/ .

[23]. “Stop air pollution deaths”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/stop-air-pollution-deaths .

[24]. Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, Korsgaard Publishing, Germany, 2021.

[25]. “Climate Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/climategenocide/ .

[26]. Gideon Polya, “50 Reasons For Free University Education As We Bequeath The Young A Dying Planet”, Countercurrents, 19 March 2017: https://countercurrents.org/2017/03/50-reasons-for-free-university-education-as-we-bequeath-the-young-a-dying-planet/ .

[27]. Gideon Polya, “Extrapolating 11,000 scientists Climate Emergency warning to 2030 catastrophe”, Countercurrents,   14 November 2019: https://countercurrents.org/2019/11/extrapolating-11000-scientists-climate-emergency-warning-to-2030-catastrophe .

[28]. John P. Rafferty, “Biodiversity loss”, 21 September Britannica, 2022: https://www.britannica.com/science/biodiversity-loss .

[29]. “Climate Debt”, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_debt .

[30]. “Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth%27s_atmosphere .

[31]. “Letter to PM Kevin Rudd by Dr James Hansen”, 2008: http://www.aussmc.org.au/documents/Hansen2008LetterToKevinRudd_000.pdf .

[32]. Gideon Polya, “Revised Annual Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Pollution For All Countries – What Is Your Country Doing?”, Countercurrents, 6 January, 2016: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya060116.htm .

[33]. Gideon Polya, “Exposing And Thence Punishing Worst Polluter Nations Via Weighted Annual Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Pollution Scores”, Countercurrents, 19 March 2016: https://countercurrents.org/polya190316.htm .

[34]. Damian Carrington, “‘Significant’ moves on climate disaster funds lift COP27 hopes”, Guardian, 9 November 2022: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/09/cop27-egypt-climate-disaster-funds .

[35]. Gideon Polya, “Methane Leakage Makes Australia A World Leading Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Polluter”, Countercurrents, 18 February 2022: https://countercurrents.org/2020/02/methane-leakage-makes-australia-a-world-leading-per-capita-greenhouse-gas-polluter/ .

[36]. Antolín Fernández Antuña and Francisco Franco, “Compensation”, Jus Mundi, 23 September 2022: https://jusmundi.com/en/document/publication/en-compensation .

Dr Gideon Polya taught science students at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia over 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, notably a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds”. He has also published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (2007, 2022) and “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (1998, 2008). He has recently published “US-imposed Post-9-11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide” (2020), and “Climate Crisis, Climate Genocide & Solutions” (2020). For images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/  .


Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B. Become a Patron at Patreon Subscribe to our Telegram channel


GET COUNTERCURRENTS DAILY NEWSLETTER STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX


Comments are closed.