Richest 1% Emitted Carbon as Much as Two-Thirds of Humanity

The richest one per cent of the world’s population emitted as much carbon in 2019 as the poorest two-thirds. With the UN climate summit looming, concerns mount over the achievability of the 1.5°C target for controlling global temperature rise, said new Oxfam report.

ALARMING PREDICTIONS AND EXCESS DEATHS

The outsized emissions of the wealthiest 1% are projected to cause 1.3 million heat-related deaths, equivalent to the population of Dublin, Ireland, with most fatalities expected between 2020 and 2030. Oxfam’s interim Executive Director Amitabh Behar emphasizes the devastating impact, stating, “The super-rich are plundering and polluting the planet to the point of destruction.”

CARBON INEQUALITY UNVEILED REPORT HIGHLIGHTS STARK GAP IN CARBON FOOTPRINTS

A Planet for the 99%” dissects consumption emissions, exposing a stark gap between the super-rich and the majority. The top 1% produced 16% of global consumption emissions in 2019, surpassing all car and road transport emissions, while the richest 10% accounted for 50% of emissions.

RICH VS. REST: BILLIONAIRES’ CARBON OUTPUT VS. WIND TURBINES

Comparisons reveal the astonishing reality: it would take nearly 1,500 years for someone in the bottom 99% to match the carbon output of the richest billionaires in a year. Annually, the emissions of the top 1% negate carbon savings equivalent to nearly one million wind turbines.

Since the 1990s, the top 1% has utilized twice as much of the remaining carbon budget as the poorest half of humanity. Projected emissions of the richest 1% in 2030 are set to be 22 times greater than what is compatible with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.

CLIMATE BREAKDOWN AND INEQUALITY INTERLINKED CRISES

Oxfam notes a vicious cycle where climate breakdown and inequality exacerbate each other. The impact is felt disproportionately by those in poverty, women, girls, Indigenous communities, and Global South countries. Seven times more people die from floods in more unequal countries.

TAXING WEALTH AND GLOBAL REDISTRIBUTION

Oxfam proposes solutions: a 60% tax on the incomes of the richest 1% could cut emissions significantly and generate $6.4 trillion annually. Governments are urged to dramatically reduce inequality, transition away from fossil fuels, and prioritize well-being over profit, extraction, and consumption.

In a call to action, Oxfam emphasizes that redirecting wealth through taxation can transform our chances to tackle both inequality and the climate crisis, presenting an opportunity to invest in a sustainable future and reinject trillions into democracies.

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