Heavily Polluted Air of Birmingham Wikimedia Commons

Carbon Majors and Climate Justice

Last year, it was revealed that the activities of a mere 90 firms have led to 63% of all CO2 emissions since the Industrial Revolution. These so-called "carbon majors" have made fortunes by externalizing their products’ highest cost – the climate devastation borne by the poor and vulnerable – and it is time for them to pay up.

BONN – A groundbreaking study published last November revealed that the activities of a mere 90 producers of coal, oil and gas, and cement – dubbed the “carbon majors” – have led to 63% of all CO2 emissions since the Industrial Revolution.

The report was released just weeks after Typhoon Haiyan (or Yolanda as it was known locally) tore through the Tacloban region in the Philippines. With unprecedented wind speeds of 315 kilometers (196 miles) per hour, the storm killed 6,300 people, left four million homeless, and caused more than $2 billion of damage.

Haiyan and its devastation became a rallying cry for delegates at the subsequent United Nations climate-change conference in Warsaw. In response, they agreed to establish an international mechanism to address climate-change-related “loss and damage,” to be applied in countries that are unable to adapt or protect themselves from the worst effects of global warming.

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