Since April heatwaves have been sweeping South Asia, impacting water and power supplies, agriculture, and the health of both humans and animals. The north-west and central part of India has experienced the hottest April in 122 years. In Bangladesh - where I live - it exceeded 40°C in April; water and power shortages made life unbearable.
At the same time, Assam, a north-eastern state of India, is fighting against flooding; as of May 2022 14 people lost their lives, over 700,000 people are affected, and the entire state’s roads and train tracks are severely damaged. Sylhet, a north-eastern part of Bangladesh, is experiencing its worst floods in two decades; as of May 2022 at least 10 people died, and farmers were cutting half-ripe paddy – it’s appalling to see.
Meanwhile fossil fuel giants, BP and Shell, are expecting to make almost £40 billion profit collectively this year, while the people and communities who contributed least to the climate crisis are clutching at straws and dealing with the unavoidable impacts of climate induced disasters. This is unjust.
It’s not just global South countries which are being affected by climate loss and damages, richer countries themselves are not immune to disaster impacts – Europe battled with wildfires and scorching heat; the USA experienced billion-dollars disasters in 2021 and Australia declared a national emergency in response to its east coast floods –one of its worst floods in history.
But the people and communities who have done the least to cause the climate crisis are the ones most affected. Houses, lands, schools, hospitals and roads are being lost and damaged by floods and cyclones. People are losing everything. Sea levels are rising, and people are desperate to adapt to the changing situations. Polluters must pay for the loss and the damage they’ve caused.
Here, the UK could play a key role. The UK government could force the biggest polluters to pay up. And as a large historical polluter itself, the UK could set an example to others by paying into the fund.
In last three decades, the four major fossil fuel businesses, i.e., Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell made around $2 trillion dollars in profit at the cost of seven and a half billion people and the planet. These USA and UK based fossil fuel businesses or polluters are responsible for more than 10% of the world’s carbon emissions from 1965.
Common sense and justice tell us – ‘the polluter should pay to right the wrong’. These global fossil fuel businesses need to pay tax for each ton of coal, oil and gas they extract which can help the climate vulnerable countries suffering from floods, cyclones, droughts and other climate disasters to cope with loss and damage.