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Publication Details

Reference
Bond, Patrick (2010) Climate Debt Owed to Africa: What to Demand and How to Collect?
For presentation to the Economic Justice Network Post Copenhagen Climate Justice Conference, 5 May 2010, Johannesburg : 1-29.

Summary
The ‘climate debt’ that the industries and over-consumers of the Global North owe Africans and other victims of climate change not responsible for causing the problem has accrued by virtue of the North’s excessive dumping of greenhouse gas emissions into the collective environmental space. Damage is being accounted for, including the more constrained space the South has for emissions. This historical injustice – and ‘debt’ - is now nearly universally acknowledged (aside from Washington holdouts), and reparations plus adaptation finance are being widely demanded. In Copenhagen, the 2009 United Nations summit on climate change witnessed a great deal of theatre over conceptual problems, including, who should make emissions cuts and to what degree; should markets be the main mechanism; who owes a climate debt; how much is owed; and how the debt should be collected. The willingness of African heads of state to raise the matter publicly beginning in mid-2009 was notable, but their inability to ensure political solidarity led to the imposition of the Copenhagen Accord on December 18, in a manner that sets back the cause. Civil society will have to continue working with Latin American governments, especially Bolivia’s, to advance this struggle in coming months and years – even though it is in the self-interest of African rulers to join the campaign more forcefully and durably than they did in 2009. Without African government support for the concept, systems of climate debt payment won by civil society designed to bypass the African national state (such as Basic Income Programs) will be ever more attractive.

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