In 2019, the wealthiest one percent of the world’s population – 77 million people – produced as much carbon pollution as the five billion poorest people, representing two-thirds of humanity.
The wealthiest one percent was responsible for 16% of global consumption emissions in 2019 – more than all car and road transport emissions. That is the conclusion of Oxfam’s latest report, published on the eve of the United Nations Climate Summit in Dubai.
The ‘Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%‘ report is based on research with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and assesses consumption emissions of different income groups in 2019, the most recent year for which data are available.
The report shows the wide gap between the carbon footprints of the super-rich, whose carbon-hungry lifestyles and investments in polluting industries like fossil fuels are driving global warming, and the bulk of people worldwide.
1,3 million excess deaths
According to the researchers, the wealthiest 10% of the world was responsible for half (50%) of CO2 emissions. Every year, the emissions of the wealthiest one percent are set to be 22 times greater than the level compatible with the 1,5°C goal of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2030 and neutralize the carbon dioxide savings of nearly a million wind turbines. Their outsized emissions were responsible for 1,3 million excess deaths due to heat.
The report finds that seven times more people die from floods in countries that are more unequal. Climate change is already worsening inequality both between and within countries.
Governments can tackle the twin crises of inequality and climate change by targeting the excessive emissions of the super-rich, investing in public services, and meeting climate goals.
“The super-rich are plundering and polluting the planet to the point of destruction, leaving humanity choking on extreme heat, floods, and drought,” said Oxfam International interim Executive Director Amitabh Behar. “Taxing extreme wealth transforms our chances to tackle inequality and the climate crisis.”
Oxfam calls on governments to get off fossil fuels quickly and fairly and drastically reduce inequality. Rich countries are disproportionately responsible for global warming and must end oil and gas production correspondingly faster. New taxes on corporations and billionaires could help pay for the transition to renewable energy.
Oxfam is a British-founded confederation of 21 independent charitable organizations focusing on alleviating global poverty. Oxfam was founded in 1942.