We determine those who are responsible for grievances and blame for harmful events, actions or results in a civilized society. Those responsible must make restitution for the harm they cause. Are we all responsible for the climate crisis or should we put a large part of the burden on the corporations that are most responsible?
This provocative article by Sarah van Gelder explains why we must make the companies responsible for climate crisis pay up now. The article presents three distinct reasons why the responsible companies must pay their part.
Some say we are all to blame for the climate crisis—at least all of us who get around in cars and planes. But there are reasons these 90 companies owe a major debt to the entire planet.
First, many of them knew what damage they were causing. According to the report, more than half of the carbon emissions produced since the industrial revolution were emitted since 1986, when the dangers of global warming were well-known. But these companies buried their own research findings and doubled down on fossil fuel extraction.
Second, many of these companies spend vast sums promoting climate denial and undermining support for renewable energy, electric vehicles, and other responses to the climate crisis. Industry lobbyists and think tanks, flush with money from fossil fuel companies and their executives, distort our democracy, making government accountable to their interests rather than to We the People.
Third, by doing these things, these companies prevented action during the brief window of time between climate science becoming clear and it becoming too late to avert disaster.
Van Gelder suggests that,
A good place to start would be requiring those who caused the climate catastrophe to pay. The 90 companies could start by helping families and communities recover from the floods, wind damage, and fires, and helping homeowners and cities everywhere build resilience for withstanding the effects of future disasters. But they shouldn’t stop there. The companies that are responsible for the damage should pay their share for the transition to a carbon-free future.
Van Gelder points out that there is a precedent for corporations paying for the damage they’ve caused over time. The tobacco industry paid out over $200 billion for the illnesses they caused and for their deception. It parallels the carbon-emitting companies very well.
It is time to use capitalism to solve our climate crisis. We must apply the real cost of pollution on the products corporations sell. Likewise, they must be taxed based on a well-designed protocol relative to the damage they inflict on society as a whole.
Read the entire article here.