Climate debt owed to Africa: What to demand and how to collect?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The 'climate debt' that the industries and over-consumers of the Global North owe Africans and other victims of climate change not responsible for causing the problem has accrued by virtue of the North's excessive dumping of greenhouse gas emissions into the collective environmental space. Damage is being accounted for, including the more constrained space the South has for emissions. This historical injustice - and 'debt' - is now universally acknowledged, and reparations plus adaptation finance are being widely demanded. In Copenhagen, the 2009 United Nations summit on climate change witnessed a great deal of theatre over conceptual problems, including who should make emissions cuts and to what degree; should markets be the main mechanism; who owes a climate debt; how much is owed; and how the debt should be collected. The willingness of African heads of state to raise the matter publicly beginning in mid-2009 was notable, but their inability to ensure political solidarity led to the imposition of the Copenhagen Accord on 18 December, in a manner that sets back the cause. Civil society will have to continue working with Latin American governments, especially Bolivia's, to advance this struggle in coming months and years - even though it is in the self-interest of African rulers to join the campaign more forcefully and durably than they did in 2009. Without African government support for the concept, systems of climate debt payment won by civil society designed to bypass the African national state (such as Basic Income Programs) will be ever more attractive.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInnovation For Sustainability
Subtitle of host publicationAfrican and European Perspectives
PublisherAfrican Books Collective
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9780798303460
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Environmental Science


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