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Published on 10 August 2023
Written by Lucy le Roux

The climate crisis is costing the earth: why we need to make polluters pay, and what you can do about it

The countdown is on until Make Polluters Pay Action Day (23 September) and there’s still plenty of time to get involved or organise your own event. At the end of July, I took part in a webinar about why it’s taking place and how we can get ready for it. Hopefully this blog will inspire and inform you, as you plan your next steps. If you missed the webinar and would like to watch it, you’ll find the link here: 

Make Polluters Pay - Local Action Day Workshop

So, what is Make Polluters Pay Action Day and why is it important?

Across the world we are already seeing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. Whether that’s severe drought in East Africa, catastrophic flooding in Pakistan or the punishing heatwaves that are currently being experienced around the world.

Generally, the most severe impacts of climate change are being experienced by low-income countries: those which have contributed the least to the climate crisis and are least equipped to mitigate its effects. Often the losses these countries experience cannot be recovered, for example loss of life or cultural sites. Damage, such as to houses and infrastructure, can be repaired but this costs money, with those most affected expected to foot the bill. This is loss and damage from climate change and it’s the focus of the Christian Aid climate justice campaign this year.  

At Christian Aid we believe that the companies and countries that have contributed the most to the climate crisis should be bearing the cost for the loss and damage they are causing. This is called the polluter pays principle and it is a matter of justice.  

Image credits and information i
Make Polluters Pay Action Day 2022 Credit: Callum Bennetts / Maverick Photo Agency
MPPAD 2022

But hasn’t Scotland already pledged money for loss and damage?

The Scottish Government has committed £7 million in the next 3 years to be provided through the Climate Justice Fund.

A few countries have already received funding, including Malawi where finance after Cyclone Ana in 2022 has been used to repair schools and flood defences, build safer housing for communities and to research non-economic loss and damage. 

However, this represents a tiny proportion of our historic responsibility for loss and damage. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland released a report last year calculating that Scotland’s fair share of loss and damage finance is £1.15-2.5 billion (p20). That’s why we are calling on the Scottish Government to keep loss and damage on their agenda and increase funding for it. You can help by reaching out to Scottish policymakers using our Scottish loss and damage briefing.

In addition to loss and damage funding, the Scottish Government provides broader climate finance funding through the £36 million Climate Justice Fund pledged for this parliament. The First Minister recently announced that £24 million of this money will be spent through a scheme called Climate Just Communities.

But what about the UK Government, isn’t this their responsibility?

To meet the scale of the need for loss and damage, we desperately need polluting countries to pay into the international loss and damage fund agreed at the United Nations COP27 conference last year.

It will be the UK Government that contributes to this fund, and we need them to commit to the polluters pay principle for UK funding. Therefore, here in Scotland it is important that we also join in with the UK-wide efforts to write to local MPs to put pressure on the Prime Minister. You can find more information on how to contact your local MP here.  

But what about polluting businesses, such as fossil fuel companies, shouldn’t they be paying?

Christian Aid is campaigning for no new oil and gas in the UK and highlighting the exorbitant profits of companies such as Shell and BP. Fossil Fuel companies must take responsibility for the damage they are causing to the planet, but it is unlikely that this will happen without government intervention.

Christian Aid released a report earlier in the year about where the UK Government could source the finance to pay into the international loss and damage fund. Given the tight public purse this needs to be new money raised through taxation of the fossil fuel companies and the wealthiest individuals in the UK.

You can support our campaign by engaging with our social media posts about the oil and gas company profits and by talking about them with your MP. 

Image credits and information i
Shell Profits, Make Polluters Pay Credit: Christian Aid
Shell Profits, Make Polluters Pay
Social Media Graphic, Shell's Exorbitant Profits

So, what can I do to help support Make Polluters Pay Action Day?

On the 23 September, and the days surrounding it, campaigners across Scotland and the UK will be playing their part in highlighting the injustice that is the climate crisis, and the need to make polluters pay.

During the webinar on the 31 July, we heard from protest choirs; pilgrims planning to visit polluting sites; activists committing to visit all their MSP and MP offices; plans for marches down high streets, prayer vigils, church services, community art pieces, street theatre and much more.

But this is not an exhaustive list: the great thing about Make Polluters Pay Action Day is that you can be creative about how you engage with local decision makers or raise awareness with the public.  

What could you do in your local community?

We need as much action across Scotland as possible to get the attention of local media and to show our communities and global neighbours that we care about climate justice.

We’re encouraging people to join forces with other local groups in their area, you can see what is going on near you using this map on the Make Polluters Pay website, please do add your events to it and be sure to let us know what you’re planning, we’d love to hear all about it. There are also handy guides providing advice on lots of types of action. If you have any questions or need any assistance as you plan your event, please get in touch. It is time to make polluters pay for loss and damage and we need your help. 

Take action and find out more

Want to find out more about UK-wide activities for Make Polluters Pay Action Day? Find out more by visiting our website.