Who is responsible for climate change is at the center of the negotiations. There are a few pieces of data that can answer the issue.

Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels topped 36 billion metric tons in 2021, making greenhouse gas emissions the highest ever. The US is the highest emitting country. India and Russia are next to the European Union in terms of combined emissions.

The data on emissions doesn't tell the whole story. Taryn Fransen, a senior fellow in the global climate program at World Resources Institute, says that countries are vastly different in their contribution to climate change.

The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is what causes climate change. Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a long time.

Historical emissions are the sum of a country's contributions over the years. The US is responsible for 20% of all emissions and the EU is close behind. Half of the US's total contribution is accounted for when climate pollution is counted this way.

The US and EU's long history with fossil fuels puts those regions at the center of discussions about loss and damages. Fransen says that economies that have been strong for a long time tend to be stronger.

Future responsibility

Climate damage decisions can be influenced by total emissions. Climate pollution in developing nations will be key to slowing global warming. China and India need to dramatically reduce their emissions to solve climate change. Some nations will need more time to reach net-zero emissions, but they will eventually need to get there.