Lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require the largest emitters doing business in the US to pay $500 billion over the next 10 years to support the energy transition.

The legislation sponsored by Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland would put the money in the Polluters Pay Climate Fund to be used to build new infrastructure, support communities affected by climate change and back renewable energy development efforts.

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The reasoning is that those contributing to climate change should financially contribute to addressing the environmental damage.

“Our idea is simple: those who pollute should pay to help clean up the mess they caused — and those who polluted the most should pay the most,” Van Hollen said.

“This bill will ensure the costs of climate change are no longer borne solely by the American people, and instead require big corporate polluters to pay part of the clean-up bill.”

Companies operating in the US that are responsible for at least 0.05% of global carbon dioxide and methane emissions from 2000 to 2019 would pay an amount proportionate to their emissions.

This means 25 to 30 companies would be involved, and companies such as ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and Chevron would probably pay $5 billion to $6 billion each per year.

The bill is supported by Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

“A relatively small number of the world’s largest corporations have been responsible, knowingly, for an outsized percentage of the pollution driving climate change,” Whitehouse said.

“‘Clean up your messes’ is a principle that must apply to companies for the damage they’ve inflicted on the planet. The fund would provide resources to help communities adapt to the floods, wildfires and other natural disasters linked to climate change.”