Group Calculates Climate Reparations for Oil Companies

World's top companies would owe $209B a year, according to One Earth analysis
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2023 1:15 PM CDT
Group: Oil Companies Owe $209B a Year in Climate Reparations
Saudi Aramco engineers walk in front of a gas turbine generator at the Khurais oil field near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

The top 21 fossil fuel companies are responsible for 36% of global emissions since 1988, according to a new study, which concludes BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, and others should collectively pay at least $209 billion annually in climate reparations. Talk of who should pay climate reparations typically falls to the level of government. But in a first-of-its-kind study, environmental research group One Earth assigns reparation figures based on company emissions tracked since 1988 as well as the economic situation of the companies' home countries. Four companies in the low-income nations of India, Iran, Algeria, and Venezuela are exempt from liability, while six companies in the middle-income countries of Russia, China, Mexico, Brazil, and Iraq get 50% liability, per the Guardian.

There's no such break for companies operating in high-income countries. Saudi Arabia's state-owned Saudi Aramco would owe the most at $43 billion annually. That's "just over a quarter of its 2022 profits," per the Guardian. UK-based Shell and BP would be liable for $16.3 billion per year (40% of 2022 profits) and $14.5 billion per year (52%) respectively. In the US, ExxonMobil would be liable for $18 billion annually (32%), while Chevron would be liable for $12.8 billion annually (36%), per Quartz. As a whole, the fossil fuel industry is on the hook for at least $23.2 trillion of anticipated economic damages from the climate crisis between 2025 and 2050, or $893 billion annually, according to the analysis.

So are consumers. More than 700 climate economists came up with $99 trillion as an average estimate of economic damages between 2025 and 2050, with 70% attributed to fossil fuel emissions. Researchers then split the figure three ways, deciding that the companies that produced fossil fuels, the consumers who bought them, and the countries that allowed the companies to pollute should each pay an equal share. But "this is just a trial balloon anyway," study co-author Richard Heede tells the Observer. "We have no rational mechanism for raising funds, or managing funds or allocating funds to victims of climate change," he adds. "We expect a vigorous debate." (More reparations stories.)

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