Who is Responsible For?

Policies to fight against climate change are based on two main pillars. These are climate change mitigation and adaptation to climate events. It is obvious why we are trying to reduce carbon emissions – and therefore climate change – but we also need adaptation policies for climate change because global average temperatures have increased by 1.2 degrees since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Many extreme climate events we face as a result of this 1.2 degree rise in global average temperatures will continue to affect our lives ‘irreversibly’, as pointed out in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2021 report. Therefore, it is a necessity to adapt to these changes in the climate. But, who is responsible for climate change?

It is estimated that 2,500 billion tons of carbon emissions have been released since 1850 as a result of human activities. A study by Carbon Brief tries to calculate which country cumulatively emits more carbon between 1850 and 2021. The results are not so surprising;  United States of America has the largest share in global cumulative carbon emissions. States is estimated to be responsible for twenty percent of global cumulative carbon emissions alone. China is in the second place with a share of ten percent, and Russia is in the third place with a share of seven percent. Germany and the United Kingdom are also responsible for emissions of four percent and three percent respectively.

As can be clearly seen, the countries that produce the most human-induced emissions, which are the biggest cause of climate change, receive a sizable share of global welfare. On the other hand, many countries least responsible for cumulative emissions are facing the most devastating consequences of climate change. The Climate Vulnerable Forum, which was formed by the countries facing the most devastating problems of climate change, tries to make their voices heard.

As a result, those who ’cause’ climate change differ from those who suffer the most from the consequences of climate change. This situation imposes a historical responsibility on countries with high global cumulative emissions. Climate justice must be established in order to share the consequences of climate change fairly.

By the way, let me remind you that on July 25, 1997, the US Senate took a unanimous decision not to put the Kyoto Protocol into effect.

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