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Richest 1% responsible for twice the amount of carbon emissions than the poorest 50%

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Unsplash: Alexander Popov

The richest people in the world, who make up just 1% of the population, are responsible for a significant amount of carbon emissions. A study shows that the “1 percenters” make up twice as much carbon pollution than the poorest half of the world. Some say the poor are the least responsible for climate change, but have to deal with most of the negative consequences.

In a 25 year study led by Oxfam, researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute found that wealthy countries were responsible for using up nearly a third of the Earth’s carbon budget. The study was conducted from 1990 to 2015, when annual emissions grew by 60%.

Oxfam is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organisations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, founded in 1942 and led by Oxfam International. It is a major nonprofit group with an extensive collection of operations.

63 million people made up the richest 1% of the world. Since 1990, they have been responsible for 9% of the ‘carbon budget’. The carbon budget is the maximum amount of greenhouse gases that can go into the air before temperature rises to catastrophic levels. 3.1 billion people make up the poorest half of the world’s population. The carbon emissions growth rate of the rich 1% was 3 times more than the poorest half of the world.

There’s not just an economic inequality between the rich and the poor, according to the head of policy, advocacy and research, Tim Gore. He told AFP the research shows the world’s “carbon inequality.”

“It’s not just that extreme economic inequality is divisive in our societies, it’s not just that it slows the rate of poverty reduction …But there is also a third cost which is that it depletes the carbon budget solely for the purpose of the already affluent growing their consumption … And that of course has the worse impacts on the poorest and least responsible.”

Carbon emissions have decreased since the pandemic. But just a few months doesn’t take away the damage that has been done for years. Temperatures are still on track to rise several degrees this century. Although the 2015 Paris climate deal was set to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels, emissions have continued to increase.

“It’s clear that the carbon intensive and highly unequal model of economic growth over the last 20-30 years has not benefited the poorest half of humanity… It’s a false dichotomy to suggest that we have to choose between economic growth and fixing the climate crisis.”

Some say the global economy needs to prioritise “green growth.” If not, the decrease in pollution during the pandemic will have a very small and insignificant overall impact on climate change. Some say carbon emissions affect the poorest nations the most who don’t have enough resources to fight natural disasters possibly brought on by the rising temperatures, like wildfires and droughts.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | AFP

 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    James

    Monday, September 21, 2020 at 11:00 pm

    I suppose poor people are producing fewer emissions than rich people because they are poor and can not afford big cars, or heating/cooling and can not afford to fly etc.

    If they were rich they would be doing the same as any other rich person.

    I bet a lot of poor people would love to be rich and would not mind being able to pollute the world as rich people can.

  2. Avatar

    Brian

    Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Over the last century, humans increased CO2 ppm by around 100, from roughly 300 to 400. Look at a chart of historic CO2, and you’ll see that it wasn’t that long ago that it was over 1000. Nor was it that long ago that it was over 2000. In the distant past, it was 4000 ppm. Even further back, it was 7000 ppm — 17x what it is today. Yet life was abundant. Historical estimations of temperature show no clear relationship with CO2 ppm. It’s just another fictitious “crisis”. It serves politicians, and it serves media and ad agencies.

  3. Avatar

    Roger Ritchie

    Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 11:49 pm

    Another good argument to stop migration from poor countries to the West. It reduces co2 emissions.

    • Avatar

      rinky stingpiece

      Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 9:54 pm

      Well, if you hand the problem to an ai system, it will be a Terminator movie; a world ruled by robots might be low emission, but emissions may not matter.

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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