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The richest 1% of humanity emits as much CO2 as billions of the poor

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Konrad SiwikKonrad Siwik,08.12.2023 14:00

Analysis by Oxfam International has revealed a stark difference in carbon emissions. According to the report, the richest 1% of the world's population is responsible for the same amount of CO2 emissions as two-thirds of humanity.

The richest 1 per cent of the world's population is responsible for the same amount of carbon emissions as two-thirds of the world's poorest people, or five billion people, according to an analysis published on Sunday 19 November by the non-profit organisation Oxfam International.

Contrast in carbon emissions

"Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%" report is based on research by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), which analysed the unequal distribution of emissions associated with different income groups in 2019. This sheds light on the key role of wealth levels in shaping impact on the environment.

Among the key findings of this study is that the world's richest 1% - 77 million people - were responsible for 16% of global consumption emissions. This is the same result as that produced by the 66% of the world's lowest-income population, or 5.11 billion people.

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While tackling the climate crisis is a common challenge, not everyone is equally responsible for it, thus government policies need to be adjusted accordingly. These were the conclusions of Max Lawson, co-author of the report, who was interviewed by AFP.

"The richer you are, the easier it is to cut both your personal and your investment emissions," Lawson said. "You don't need that third car, or that fourth holiday, or you don’t need to be invested in the cement industry."

Lawson points out the need for government policy to adapt to these differences in the fight against climate change. "We think that unless governments enact climate policy that is progressive, where you see the people who emit the most being asked to take the biggest sacrifices, then we're never going to get good politics around this," he said.

According to Lawson, these measures could include, for example, a tax on flying more than ten times a year, or a tax on non-green investments, which would be much higher than a tax on green investments.

Source: Oxfam/AFP

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