Rich countries owe poor on environment

The world’s richest countries owe a huge environmental debt to developing countries because of the vast difference in their respective carbon footprints, according to a landmark study reported by The Guardian.

The study found consumption disparities over time between rich and poor countries was a large factor for the accumulated build up of ecological damage, an amount that totals more than the entire third world debt of US$1.8 trillion, according to the report’s authors.

"At least to some extent, the rich nations have developed at the expense of the poor and, in effect, there is a debt to the poor," University of California, Berkeley professor Richard Norgaard, who led the study, was reported as saying.

"That, perhaps, is one reason that they are poor. You don’t see it until you do the kind of accounting that we do here."

Greenhouse-gas emissions from low-income countries have imposed $740 billion of damage on rich countries, while the damage caused in the other direction totals $2.3 trillion.

This damage includes, for instance, flooding from more severe storms as a result of climate change.

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