The super-rich are plundering and polluting the planet to the point of destruction, leaving humanity choking on extreme heat, floods and drought
- 3 min read
- Published: 19th November 2023
Richest 1% emit as a much planet-heating pollution as two- thirds of humanity
The richest 1 per cent of the world’s population produced as much carbon pollution in 2019 as the five billion people who made up the poorest two-thirds of humanity, according to a report published by Oxfam today ahead of the UN Climate Summit, COP28.
The report, Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%, is based on research with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). It assesses the consumption emissions of different income groups, highlighting the stark 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 rest of the world.
- Carbon emissions of richest 1 percent surged to 16 percent of world’s total CO2 emissions in 2019.
- Unequal countries suffer seven times more flood fatalities than more equal countries.
- Fairly taxing the super-rich would help curb both climate change and inequality.
- Richest 1% emit as much planet-heating pollution as the poorest two-thirds of humanity – 5 billion people (in 2019).
The super-sized emissions of the super-rich will lead to the heat related deaths of 1.3 million people in the near future, that’s roughly the population of Dublin say Oxfam in a report out today (Nov. 20)
“Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%”, is a landmark report as it makes clear how intertwined the issues of climate change and inequality really are.
It comes ahead of the UN climate summit in Dubai, amid growing fears that the 1.5°C target for curtailing rising temperatures appears increasingly unachievable.
“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’s climate spokesperson, Simon Murtagh.
“Most super-rich polluters would like us to accept that we’re all equally responsible for climate breakdown. But we’re not the same at all. Far from it and the runaway inequality that fuels the climate crisis is evident globally and nationally in our figures”, said Murtagh.
- The richest half a million people in Ireland emit almost the same amount of carbon as the poorest 50% of Irish society.
- The richest 10% of the Irish society is responsible for 27% of our carbon emissions.
“Irish emissions have risen faster than any other EU country this year, by 12% and 9% in recent quarters. It’s hard to see how we can curb these soaring omissions without taxing the wealth that is largely responsible”, said Murtagh.
“How can we seriously meet our carbon targets without also addressing the power and privilege of those who do most of the polluting?” asked Murtagh. “A just transition to a carbon free future cannot happen without taxing wealth in our view. The good news is that would amply fund that transition and the climate finance needed to address global inequality.”
Oxfam Ireland are now asking government to do three things:
- Close the gap now between the super-rich and the rest of us. Taxing rich polluters is the key to doing this.
- Stop using planet-killing fossil fuels quickly and fairly.
Focus our economies on people and planet, not on endless profits for rich polluters.
For more information and interviews, and an embargoed copy of the report:
Clare Cronin | firstname.lastname@example.org | +353 (0) 87 195 2551
Notes to editors
Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%” is based on research with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and assesses the consumption emissions of different income groups in 2019, the most recent year for which data are available. The report shows the stark 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 across the world.
On Nov. 20 - Download “Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%” and the methodology note. The Stockholm Environment Institute’s Emissions Inequality Dashboard is also available for consultation.
Oxfam has launched a global petition to Make Rich Polluters Pay.