The research, which combined historical data and climate models, focused on the economic impact of warming temperatures as a consequence of emissions released between 1990 and 2014. Countries that saw the greatest headwinds to per-capita GDP growth because of these US emissions were disproportionately in the global South. A few countries saw outsized gains in their economies because of the emissions, including Russia, Iceland, Finland, and Greenland.

The harm attributed to the five biggest emitters, the US, China, Russia, Brazil, and India, collectively caused $6 trillion in income losses, or 11% of global GDP, according to the research.

Quantitative assessments of culpability like these are useful in developing fair mitigation policy and agreements, and, potentially, in providing basis for climate litigation and restitution.

“This research provides an answer to the question of whether there is a scientific basis for climate liability claims—the answer is yes,” said one of the study’s authors, Christopher Callahan.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Dartmouth College as Dartmouth University and included the study’s finding that $6 trillion in income loses was equivalent to 14% of global GDP within the study period. This value was incorrect in the published paper and it has been updated to the correct figure of 11%. 

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.