Climate Reparations

Over-emitting countries hold responsibility for climate breakdown and owe reparations to low-emitting countries for atmospheric appropriation and climate-related damages.

Our page on responsibility for climate breakdown demonstrates that the countries of the global North are predominantly responsible for emissions in excess of the safe planetary boundary (350ppm concentration of atmospheric CO2), while damages fall disproportionately on the global South. Recent research published in Nature Sustainability shows that most of these countries have also overshot their fair-shares of the 1.5C and 2C limits, and are thus appropriating the fair-shares of other countries.1 In a scenario where all countries reduce their emissions to zero by 2050, the global North would overshoot its collective fair-share of the 1.5 °C carbon budget by a factor of three, appropriating half of the global South’s share in the process, forcing them to mitigate more rapidly than would otherwise be required. The interactive graph below allows users to see how different countries perform relative to their fair-shares of various carbon budgets, calculated from different base years.

In a scenario where all countries decarbonize by 2050, the over-emitting countries would be liable to pay US$192 trillion to the rest of the world by 2050 to compensate for the appropriation of their atmospheric fair-shares, using carbon prices from the IPCC consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. This represents an average disbursement to those countries of US$940 per capita per year. For many people in the global South, this would be transformative. The interactive graph below allows users to see what countries are liable to pay or entitled to receive. 

The next two figures represent the same data but in the form of searchable tables.  The first one covers countries that are liable to pay compensation (in red), while the second one covers countries are that entitled to receive compensation (in green).

Note that this study focuses only on compensation that is owed for atmospheric appropriation, which should be considered additional to broader questions about the costs of transition, adaptation and damages.

Also note that responsibility for excess emissions is held largely by the wealthy classes who have high lifestyle emissions and who wield disproportionate power over provisioning systems and national policy.  The responsibility for compensation must be allocated accordingly. See our page on carbon inequality




Notes and references

1. Fanning, A. L., and Hickel, J. (2023). Compensation for atmospheric appropriation. Nature Sustainability.

2. People's Agreement of Cochabamba (2010). Available at: