Aug. 1, 2022 (GIN) – The African continent of 1.2 billion people, which represents 17% of the world’s population, contributes less than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions but suffers from extreme weather events which scientists have warned will become more frequent due to climate change.
Researchers in a new study have now put an actual dollar figure on economic harm caused by the countries most responsible for the climate crisis, and the ground-breaking data could serve as a starting point for legal action by Africans against the world’s wealthiest nations.
The Dartmouth College study found that just five of the world’s top emitters of planet-warming gases — the United States, China, Russia, India, and Brazil — caused around a $6 trillion loss in gross domestic product from 1990 to 2014, or about 11% of total global GDP.
The study also shows the US and China — the two biggest contributors to the climate crisis — individually caused global economic losses of more than $1.8 trillion each during that same period.
The study’s authors said this is the first time scientists have connected the dots between one country’s fossil fuel emissions and the economic harm those emissions have done to other countries.
The world’s wealthiest countries have already agreed to pay into a global climate finance fund, though rich countries have shirked deadlines on payments to that fund.
Having a rich set of data to show how much poorer nations’ economies have been harmed could increase the pressure on richer nations at this year’s summit, experts told CNN.
“Scientific studies show that high emitters no longer have a leg to stand on in avoiding their obligations to address loss and damage,” said Bahamian climate scientist Adelle Thomas of Climate Analytics.
Recent studies “increasingly and overwhelmingly show that loss and damage is already crippling developing countries, she said.
After the U.S., the countries that caused most damage since 1990 are China ($1.8 trillion), Russia ($986 billion), India ($809 billion) and Brazil ($528 billion), study authors figured. Just the United States and China together caused about one-third of the world’s climate damage.