India and China must pay climate compensations alongside other major polluters, the alliance for small island states has said during the ongoing UN climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Speaking to reporters including The Independent at the Cop27 venue on Tuesday evening, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, who is also the chair for Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), called for all major polluters to pay towards the proposed climate compensations referred to as ‘loss and damage’ in the negotiations.
“We all know that India and China … are major polluters and the polluters must pay,” PM Gaston Browne said. “I don’t think that there’s any free pass for any country.”
Mr Browne also added that all countries should be paying “what is equitable and fair”, referring to the fact that a bigger share of responsibilities still lies with the developed countries that have been historically responsible for planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
The call comes after climate compensation, one of the most contentious issues of the negotiations, made it to this year’s agenda at the Cop27 summit, and the shape and financing of the fund is now under discussion.
So far, the demands to pay for climate finance and compensations have mainly been focused on developed nations like the US and the UK that are responsible for the majority of carbon emissions since the industrial era.
The United States and European Union, which have also failed to meet their climate finance targets so far, have dragged their feet on the issue of loss and damage in the past, fearful of legal liabilites.
But this year’s UN climate summit, which comes on the heels of back-to-back devastating extreme weather events, is seeing an increased push to compensate vulnerable countries for their losses.
Developing countries like China and India in recent decades have moved to become among the biggest polluters in the world, however their historic emissions are much lower than developed western nations.
But calls are growing for countries like China and India to also be made liable to pay for the costs of climate impacts, which are disproportionately borne by small and vulnerable countries, such as Caribbean and Pacific islands.
Antigua and Barbuda has faced billions of dollars worth of damages due to frequent hurricanes made worse by the climate crisis.
Meanwhile, developing nations like India and China have repeatedly cited that the majority of the responsibility of climate action should be borne by developed nations that have exploited the resources for centuries and are responsible for the current levels of warming.
The countries themselves have also witnessed devastatingly extreme weather events with record breaking heatwaves in India this year and massive droughts and flooding in China unleashing cascading impacts on its vulnerable population and economies.
This story was originally published on The Independent, with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP27 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship.