Skip to content

📄 "Climate Reparations & Carbon Removal"

Carbon Removal Newsroom

Photo by Mediamodifier / Unsplash

Host: Radhika Moolgavkar
Guests: Dr. Holly Jean Buck | Assistant Professor in Environment & Sustainability | University at Buffalo &
Chris Barnard | National Policy Director | American Conservation Coalition
Category: 📄 Policy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:12] HB: “[Climate Reparations] is a long form article [and] there's been a few discussions of this topic. One notable point is that in April of last year, an Indonesian energy minister said at a UN conference that rich countries need to be net negative and could remove atmospheric CO2 to account for historical emissions. So […] ears perked up at that. And I think a lot of this long form piece, it talks about climate inequality, how it's hitting tropical and global south countries, but most of the emissions come from the global north. So is there a responsibility for those global north countries to remove carbon? […] A lot of this comes from the work of Dr. Olufemi Taiwo, who just published a book this month called “Reconsidering Reparations”, and it talks about climate reparations as part of an overall look at that.”

[2:48] HB: “In terms of climate reparations, Taiwo says that these aren't one off payments. He says, “climate reparations […] are better understood as a systemic approach to redistributing resources and changing policies and institutions that have perpetuated harm, rather than a discrete exchange of money or apologies for past wrongdoing.” So he sees this as like a systemic transformation. I do think that's a necessary part of the fight against climate change. In terms of climate colonialism, he's talking a lot about climate migration and […] the ability to respond to climate change where you live, where you can go, what economic resources you have access to, all of that has been shaped by colonialism. So climate colonialism would be a situation in which the global north, these colonial powers historically, […] kind of retreat behind their walls and safeguard themselves while the rest of the world is left to adapt and suffers loss and damage. And so clearly that is not where we want it to go.”

[6:04] CB: “I've come to […] realize, and kind of one of my gripes with the with the climate movement is that these terms like colonialism and reparations […] make sense, kind of in the classroom, they make sense in […] theory, […] but they're very abstract for most of the average human. […] In general, I do think that sometimes these conversations are too far removed from what's A) politically possible and B) understandable to people.”

[6:50] CB: “When we're talking about reparations and colonialism, those are very, very heavy words with […] heavy histories as well. And so just seeing them thrown around easily in the climate discussion makes me a little bit uncomfortable. […] There's just so many things that you'd have to clarify around this. Obviously, wealthier countries have become wealthy thanks to fossil fuels, and it's raised living standards. But it's also done in poorer countries, and they're catching up to that now. […] Obviously, all the countries that are growing rapidly now, India, China, Nigeria, and other countries like that, their carbon emissions are predicted to go up hugely. And so where will this conversation be in 50 to 100 years when they might reach some kind of fossil fuel emission parity with us right now? […] There's just so much moral attribution or moral criticism here, that I find it distracts probably a little bit too much from the actual discussion of how do we reduce emissions with technology as fast as possible.

[21:56] CB: “On average, future generations have done better economically, had more resources, better quality of life, life outcomes, etc, than past generations. And so the question is, how much should we sacrifice today, our generation in order to prevent runaway climate change for future generations, with the understanding that they will probably be better off than we are anyway? And so there's a really interesting discussion around this. And I read this quote from a climate scientist called Brian O'Neill the other day, and he said, “We're generally in the climate change field, not talking about futures that are worse than today.” And the kind of underlying assumption within that is that climate change could be bad, yes. But even with how bad climate change could be, the future will probably still be better than the present in terms of longevity of life, like educational outcomes, poverty levels.”

[22:49] CB: “One of the things that I'm most interested in are policies today that make economic sense and don't impoverish us today to reduce the climate risk for future generations, but make economic sense for both generations. […] I think […] carbon markets […] are excellent ways of doing that, because they're very cost effective. And generally, that's why I prefer competitive energy markets, because you have efficient allocation of resources and you have a good balance. For example, […] you compare Texas to, for example, Germany, or California, you have more emissions, but you actually tend to have lower carbon intensity, because the grid is more stable than overly renewable grades. […] One of the things that we focus on is […] what we call a no regrets climate framework.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 31 min | 🗓️ 01/14/2022
✅ Time saved: 29 min

Additional Links: