There will be plenty who don’t like it. But the idea being pushed by Nicola Sturgeon that “there is an obligation in the spirit of solidarity for the richer countries that have largely caused climate change to now make a big effort to help those dealing with the impacts” is surely one whose time has come.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon announces £5m fund for climate reparations

That Scotland helped push it over the line, promising actual money last year, a £2 million loss and damages fund, is something of which we should be proud. Denmark followed in September, offering £11.8 million for loss and damage. The Wallonia region of Belgium committed almost £1 million. Now we see Sturgeon promising still more, a full £5 million.

Some will be outraged - and wonder how a small country can give such funding in a time of growing economic crisis. But let’s put these figures in context for they are tiny compared to the more than £440 billion in loss and damage that the Climate Vulnerable Forum and the V20 countries calculated that they had already suffered over the past two decades.

Heatwaves brought on by human-caused climate breakdown have cost the global economy about £14 trillion since the 1990s, according to one study, and all this within a world of global GDP of £84 trillion.

Of course, there are those who don’t like the sound of loss and damages or reparations. They don’t like it when the idea comes from Nicola Sturgeon and they don’t like it when it is delivered by Ed Miliband. And I get why some people are lashing out against this. For some it’s not just a cost-of-living crisis issue, but yet another attack on empire and our glory days.

They will point out how the industrial revolution raised the living standards of billions of people and increased life expectancy, but they’ll neglect the other part of the story – of exploitation mixed with unforeseen consequences. They’ll miss out the story of what it did to our natural world and resources, and the communities that never saw a glimpse of its benefits.

READ MORE: Coal, steam, empire and COP26 : Glasgow's emissions story

This issue of loss and damage is set to be key in the coming days at Cop27 in Egypt, a conference already fraught with controversy over the country's human rights issues and hiving off of activists. But it’s been on the table many times before. There’s a regular Cop tussle between the poor and the rich, the developed and the developing world, over who did it and who should fund the change. Developed countries have already committed to raising £90 billion ($100 billion) per year for use in developing countries in mitigation and adaptation measures. But that annual target has never been met. The money has failed to come.

And now, as more and more damage has been linked to climate-change, the question of damage is uttered more strongly.

The moral case seems obvious. If a factory polluted your river and town, wouldn’t you feel it had a moral obligation to clean-up after itself and compensate those damaged? And what if there was not just one factory here – but a whole industrialising empire that has spread throughout the world, belching emissions as it did so?

Last year, in the run up to Cop26 I wrote an article telling the story of how Glasgow, the Second City of Empire, a ship-building, steam-driven manufacturing centre, also carried emissions and a carbon revolution across the world leaving, in its colonial footprint, an accompanying carbon footprint. What struck me was that we still live in the built shell of that carbon history.

A 2020 study published in The Lancet revealed the Global North was responsible for 92 per cent of excess global carbon emissions since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, when burning fossil fuels became the norm. There’s no avoiding these stark figures. But are we really all to be held responsible? Can it really just be a matter of geography? Even if you are a low-income Scot, struggling to feed your family, should you have the blame dumped on you? Climate justice has to surely be seen as part of a bigger picture that includes wider social justice.

The past matters, but shouldn’t we be trying harder to make the current big polluters pay? A report, for instance, published yesterday by Oxfam triggered calls for a wealth tax on the world’s super-rich to raise funds for countries on the frontline of the crisis.

The study, which analysed the emissions linked to the investment activity of 125 of the world’s richest people, found that a billionaire’s average annual emissions were roughly a million times higher than the annual emissions of a person outside of the richest 10% of the global population.

The impact of Britain’s empire isn’t something we can ignore, nor is the more recent impact of the super-rich. But it’s not just about what country pays the bill. It’s about who. We won’t solve it until we, here and in other countries, make those who profit most from pollution pay.