U.S. carbon 'debt' = $4 trillion

U.S. carbon gas emissions since 1990, when climatologist James Hansen publicly warned Congress of global warming, account for 40% of the problem, according to a new study.

And at $40 a ton as the calculated cost of the damage from carbon pollution, the U.S. owes $4 trillion dollars to non-polluting nations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and even China.

All together developed nations, including Russia, have done $10 trillion of damage.

Concordia University: Damon Matthews

The calculations come from Damon Matthews of Concordia University in an article published in Nature Climate Change.

To read the full paper costs £22 without a subscription but Motherboard has a summary in an article by Brian Merchant on 9 September 2015.

Using the world's total carbon emissions, each person is considered to be entitled to pollute by the same amount. Countries that pollute more by capita are considered to be in climate debt. Those that pollute less are climate creditors. They are mostly developing nations.

The U.S. is responsible for 40% of the debt since the 1990 baseline. Russia is second, but still only accounts for nine percent. Next in line are Japan, Germany, Canada, the U.K. and Australia, reports Merchant.

Matthew uses the U.S.'s own social cost of carbon -- the dollar value of the damage caused by each ton of CO2 pollution, currently pegged at $40 -- to calculate the debt accumulated since 1990, as of 2013.

Concordia University: Damon Matthews

The Motherboard site is worth consulting simply for the irascible debate the story aroused.


Motherboard »Nature 7 September 2015 »