Donald Trump pissed off a lot of people back in March when questioned about whether he felt responsibility for America's Covid death rate. He replied, "I don't take any responsibility at all."
Outrageous that he should shirk responsibility for his own dereliction. What kind of a human being was this man?
Sticking to that theme, what about us, when will we take responsibility for the damage we have and continue to cause others? By "we" I refer to the affluent, developed nations and how we shirk responsibility for the damage our prosperity has visited upon the poorest and most vulnerable nations.
Jason Hickel has written a paper published in the journal, Lancet Planetary Health, examining, "consumption-based emissions from 1970 to 2015) to determine the extent to which each country has overshot or undershot its fair share."
Hickel takes a per capita approach to his calculations. Everyone is entitled to an equal share of the atmospheric commons.
Research Matters offers this summary of the paper.
Among the debtors, the USA has the largest ‘climate debt’ of 380 billion tonnes, accounting for 40% of the total climate debt. It is followed by Russia and Germany at 8% each, the UK at 7%, Japan at 5%, and France and Canada at 3% each. “The climate debt of the Global North means that these countries have a responsibility to reduce emissions faster than the rest of the world,” urges Jason.
The thrust of Hickel's analysis is not that the non-polluters should get some GHG pass for the future. No, every nation must pare its emissions to the bone just as rapidly as possible. Squaring the accounts, in Hickel's argument, means that the over-emitters - the U.S., Russia, Germany, the U.K., Japan, France and Canada need to shell out hundreds of billions of dollars for mitigation and to help those who have been harmed to adapt to the change they cannot avoid. It's a case of damages. A lot like a car accident.
Is it the right thing to do? Absolutely. Will we do it? Not a chance. We're rich and the rich don't take responsibility. Just like Donald Trump.