The richest of the world, who are just one per cent of the total population, are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution than the 3.1 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, according to Oxfam’s new report “Confronting Carbon Inequality.
The report is based on research conducted with the Stockholm Environment Institute. It is released at a time when world leaders are meeting at the UN General Assembly to discuss global challenges including the climate crisis. Oxfam analysed the consumption emissions of different income groups for 25 years from 1990 to 2015, when humanity doubled the amount of carbon dioxide.
- The richest 10 percent accounted for over half of the emissions added to the atmosphere between 1990 and 2015. The one per cent rich was responsible for 15 percent of emissions during this time. This was more than all the citizens of the European Union and more than twice that of the poorest half of humanity.
- The richest ten percent blew one third of remaining global 1.5 C carbon budget. This was just percent for the poorest. The carbon budget is the amount of carbon dioxide that can be added to the atmosphere without causing global temperatures to rise above 1.5C
- Annual emissions grew by 60 percent between 1990 and 2015. The richest 5 percent were responsible for over a third (37 percent) of this growth. The total increase in emissions of the richest one percent was three times more than that of the poorest 50 percent.
Head of Climate Policy at Oxfam and author of the report Tim Gore said that the over consumption of a wealthy minority was fuelling climate crisis. However, it is the poor community and young people who are paying the price. Gore said that such extreme carbon inequality was a direct consequence of grossly unequal and carbon intensive economic growth of the governments.
The report said that carbon emissions are likely to rebound as governments ease Covid related lockdowns. It said that 2020 that had recorded one C of global heating had augmented deadly cyclones in India and Bangladesh, locust swarms across Africa and unprecedented heat waves and wildfires across Australia and the US.
Oxfam said that the per capita emissions of the richest will need to be around ten times lower by 2030 to keep the world on track for just 1.5C or warming. Even reducing the per capita emissions of the richest to the EU average would cut annual emissions by over a quarter, the report said,