According to new research published yesterday by Oxfam International, the richest 1% pollute more than twice as much carbon dioxide as the bottom 50% combined. The Oxfam study, was conducted in partnership with the Stockholm Environmental Institute. It analyzed data collected from 1990 to 2015, a period during which emissions doubled worldwide.
The study found that the world’s richest 63 million people were responsible for 15% of global CO2 emissions, while the poorest half of the world’s people (roughly 3.7 billion) emitted just 7%.
As Commondreams.org reports, “the per capita footprint of the richest 10% is more than 10 times the 1.5°C-consistent target for 2030, and more than 30 times higher than the poorest 50%.” In other words, the wealthy are a major hindrance to achieving the goal of slowing down Climate Change.
The researchers also reported that “air and automobile travel were two of the main emission sources among the world’s wealthiest people. The study revealed that during the 15-year period, the richest 10% blew out one-third of the world’s remaining ‘carbon budget‘ — the amount of carbon dioxide that can be added to the atmosphere without causing global temperatures to rise above 1.5°C — as set under the Paris Agreement. It also found that annual emissions grew by 60% between 1990 and 2015, with the richest 5% responsible for 37% of this growth.”
If you ever wondered why action on climate change is occurring so slow, if at all, look no further than Oxfam’s report. The owners of this planet, the industrial and tech entrepreneurs who also own our media and our politicians want to protect their way of life.
Honestly, if you were in their shoes, why would they change? Global Warming doesn’t mean squat to most of them. Their little wealth bubbles protect them from virtually anything, including the environment.
Climate Change is unfolding in front of us in 2020. Covid-19 might be making the headlines, but the wildfires, hurricanes and drought are still the bigger story. However, even in this late stage, we should not be discussing the consequences of climate change, without still examining the causes.
The over-consumption of the wealthy minority is a major factor in that cause. Let’s look at one person, the billionaire Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos. She was born rich and married rich. Her family owns ten yachts, four planes, and two helicopters. I imagine they own automobiles as well. The carbon dioxide pollution behind Betsy’s private transportation alone is more than countless small and medium size businesses, let alone households. And she pays less taxes.
To help solve this problem, Oxfam is calling for more taxes on high-carbon luxuries, including a frequent-flier tax, in order to invest in lower-emission alternatives. Not only would that force the wealthy to pollute less, it will improve the lives of the world’s poorest 50%, who pollute the least, but are the most affected by the disasters associated with Climate Change.
It’s no surprise that wealth inequality is directly associated with carbon inequality. You can’t confront one issue without affecting the other. The problem is, no one is currently tackling either side. The day may come when the pitchforks finally come out for the rich, but by then, the damage may already be done.