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Never mind loans, never mind aid: What poor nations owe is reparations | George Monbiot
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Never mind loans, never mind aid: What poor nations owe is reparations | George Monbiot


TThe history of the past 500-years can be summarized in these words: A few European nations were able to master both violence and advanced seafaring technologies. They used these skills to invade other countries and seize their labour, land, and resources.

Competition for control of other people’s lands led to repeated wars between the colonising nations. New doctrines – racial categorisation, ethnic superiority and a moral duty to “rescue” other people from their “barbarism” and “depravity” – were developed to justify the violence. These doctrines, in turn, led to to genocide.

Some European countries used the stolen labour, land, and goods to their advantage. stoke their industrial revolutions. New financial systems were developed to manage the increasing volume and scale transactions. These systems eventually became dominant in their respective economies. European elites permitted just enough of the looted wealth to trickle down to their labour forces to seek to stave off revolution – successfully in Britain, unsuccessfully elsewhere.

The impact of repeated wars and insurrections by colonised populations eventually forced rich nations to leave most lands they had seized. These territories wanted to be independent nations. Their independence was only partial. Using international debt, structural adjustmentCoups, corruptionassisted bySecrecy and offshore tax havens) transfer pricingWith the help of other clever instruments, rich nations continued to loot poor people, often through proxy governments that they established and armed.

Unwittingly at first, then with the full knowledge of the perpetrators, the industrial revolutions released waste products into the Earth’s systems. The most severe impacts were felt first in rich nations, whose cities and rivers were polluted, which reduced the lives of the poor. The wealthy moved to areas they didn’t trash. Later, the rich realized that they no longer needed to have smokestack businesses: they could use finance and subsidiaries to extract the wealth created by dirty business abroad.

Some pollutants were invisible and global. Carbon dioxide was one of them, and it did not disperse, but accumulated in our atmosphere. Partly because most wealthy nations are temperate, but also because of centuries of looting in the past colonies, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses have a significant impact on the environment. felt mostBy those who have benefited the least from their production. If the talks in GlasgowClimate justice should not be seen as another form of oppression.

The rich nations are always eager to be seen as the saviors of their former colonies and have promised to help them adjust to the chaos that they have created. These rich countries have been able to help their former colonies adjust to the chaos since 2009. pledged $100bn (£75bn) a year to poorer ones in the form of climate finance. Even if this money had come to fruition, it would have been a small token. Comparatively, the G20 nations have spent more than $2.5 trillion since 2015. $3.3tnsubventioning their fossil fuel industries. They have not kept their poor promises, it is obvious.

The latest year for which figures are available is 2019, they provided $80bn. Only $20bn was spent on this. earmarked for “adaptation”: Helping people adjust to the chaos they have been imposed upon them. Only about 7%These stingy alms went directly to the countries most in need of the money.

Instead, the wealthiest nations have spent money to keep people from being affected by climate change and other disasters. The UK spent nearly twice as much between 2013 and 2018. sealing its bordersIt did so on climate finance. The US spent 11x, Australia 13x, and Canada 15x more on climate finance. Collectively, the wealthy nations have constructed a climate wall to protect themselves from the victims of their waste products.

But the farce of climate finance doesn’t end there. The vast majority of the money claimed to be provided by the wealthy nations comes in the form of loans. Oxfam estimates the true value is around $28 billion, with most of it having to be repaid by interest. one thirdof the nominal amount. To finance the adaptation to the disasters that we have caused, highly indebted countries are encouraged to take out more debt. It is outrageously unfair.

The poor are owed reparations by the rich nations, not aid or loans. Many of the climate-related harm makes it impossible to think about adaptation. How can people adapt? To temperatures that are higher than their bodies can handle; to repeated, catastrophic cyclones which destroy homes as soon they are rebuilt; and to the drowning of whole archipelagos; as well as to the desiccation, which renders farming impossible. But while the concept of irreparable “loss and damage” was recognised in the Paris agreementThe rich nations insisted that this “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”.

By framing the pittance they offer as a gift, rather than as compensation, the states that have done most to cause this catastrophe can position themselves, in true colonial style, as the heroes who will swoop down and rescue the world: this was the thrust of Boris Johnson’s opening speech, invoking James Bond, at Glasgow: “We have the ideas. We have the technology. We have the bankers.”

But the victims of the rich world’s exploitation don’t need James Bond, nor other white saviours. They are their own people. don’t need Johnson’s posturingThey need justice. They don’t need his skinflint charity, or the deadly embrace of the bankers who fund his party. They need to be heard. They need justice.

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