Fossil Fuel Industries Should be Made Accountable for their Damage

Climate change is increasing the instances of extreme events and disasters, which is causing millions of lives and millions of dollars every year. Add to it the amount required for adaptation of the vulnerable communities. The anthropogenic climate change has been increasing since the industrial revolution according to the reports by IPCC, and the most responsible element is said to be the carbon. The rise in carbon concentration in the atmosphere subsequently led to increase in the global temperature, which resulted in changing climate. The main source of this carbon is the burning of fossil fuel, whose main source is the fossil fuel industry. So, these industries are hugely responsible for all these loss and damages that we facing today because of climate change.

There are several instances when many industries came out in the public eyes as being responsible for hiding about the climate change, or even spending billions of dollars to promote climate denial. One of the most noted one was also the Exxon industry, which is claimed to have hidden the facts relating to climate change even if they knew about it decades before it came into public knowledge. Similarly, according to an article in greenpeace website, the Koch Brothers have sent at least $88810770 directly to 80 groups denying climate change science since 1997. All this because knowing about climate change means knowing about the solution, which is renewable energy source. And switching to these renewable source means cutting down on fossil fuels, which means millions of dollars of loss to these fossil fuel industries.

But while continuing with Business as Usual is beneficial to these industries, it is downright disastrous to the world and the people living here because climate change is affecting all possible sectors. According to Kevin Trenberth from U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, “Global warming is contributing to an increased incidence of extreme weather because the environment in which all storms form has changed from human activities.” To give an example, Typhoon Haiyan  killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines, left four million people without houses, and caused $2 billion (1.48 billion euros) worth of damage. Similarly other coastal storms and disasters like floods have also caused damage all over the world. Kiribati has already become the first nation to buy land in another country for their climate refugees. 20,000,000 people were affected by flooding in the September 2010 flooding in Pakistan. Over a million were forced to flee their homes in the flooding in Assam, India. Up to three million people were affected by flooding in China in June 2014.

The cost lies directly in property damage because of disasters and also in agricultural failures. The agricultural failure is affecting the small farmers as well as big agricultural industries. Asia’s Multi-Billion Dollar Cassava Industry is at risk. Tony Bellotti from International Center for Tropical Agriculture Property says  “One outbreak of an invasive species is bad enough, but our results show that climate change could trigger multiple, combined outbreaks across  Southeast Asia, Southern China and the cassava-growing areas of Southern India.” In china, Henan and four other provinces experienced their worst drought in over 60 years.  The 2006 – 2010 drought turned 60% of Syria’s fertile land into desert By 2010, the drought had killed 80% of the country’s cattle. The Syrian minister of agriculture
stated publicly that economic and social fallout from the drought was beyond our capacity as a country to deal with.’

The U.S. Department of Defense in their 2014 Climate Change Roadmap stated “Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty,and conflict.” $129 Billion Worth of New York City Real Estate now lies in flood zones. An article in the guardian points out that the economic impact of global warming is costing the world more than $1.2 trillion a year, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP.According to Financial Times, Warming ocean make part of world uninsurable. In the 15 countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions, the damage to health from poor air quality, largely associated with the burning of fossil fuels, is valued at an average of 4.4% of GDP according to Better Climate, Better Growth: The New Climate Economy Report September 2014.

We can see that the cost of changing climate is huge. Someone should be responsible for paying this cost, the best option being the cause of these havoc themselves, the polluters, these industries. Many times people talk about too big themes like snow melting, glacier outburst and so on but often forget to talk about issues that affect our everyday lives too, like drying up of local springs, which is more serious matter of concerns for those people who depend on these spring to fetch water on daily basis. The increased consumerism in the developed world can send such climatic effects to other more vulnerable countries like Nepal and the adoption of green measures in developed nations could reduce the trend largely. And, the schemes like ‘polluters pay’ can raise money from big carbon emitting industries and businesses, a part of which can be used to help people affected in the faraway countries to adapt these impacts.

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