the richest 1% of the planet releases more CO2 than the poorest 50%

The numbers tell the story clearly. In many ways depending on the metric chosen, but the conclusion is always the same: the richest people on the planet –in emission per capita– increasingly release more CO2 compared to the poorest, well above what would correspond to them so as not to exceed the temperature increase agreed in Paris for the year 2100. The emission of greenhouse gases also means inequality.

The world will exceed in just 11 years the limit of CO2 emissions that marks an environmental catastrophe

The world will exceed in just 11 years the limit of CO2 emissions that marks an environmental catastrophe

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The richest 1% of citizens were responsible for 15% of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, a percentage that will rise to 16% in 2030, according to an Oxfam Intermón report based on research by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). If the size of the population group of the richest is increased, the amount of C02 they emit continues to be oversized: the wealthiest 10% of the world’s population emits almost half of all greenhouse gases (48% of total gases, which will be 49% in 2030). On the other hand, the poorest 50% of the planet accounted for 7% of emissions in 2015, which will be 9% in nine years.

“The extreme difference between the expected carbon footprint [en 2030] of a minority of the world’s population and the average global level necessary to comply with the Paris agreement is not sustainable, “the report concludes.” Maintaining these high levels of emissions among the richest citizens will mean greater cuts in emissions for the rest of the world. the population or leads to global warming to exceed a degree and a half above pre-industrial levels. There is no other alternative“, Add.

The report is based on the emission plans submitted by the countries themselves, and that divides the total greenhouse gases emitted by each nation by its population, according to its economic situation, “to show that emissions are very unequal by group. wealth, “says Jacobo Ocharan, Oxfam’s Global Head of Climate Justice. The text explains that the spending of the wealthiest is calculated based on public information about the houses, vehicles, aircraft and yachts they own and indicates the “superyachts” as the main responsible for emissions (7,000 tons per year emits only one) , with private jets, space tourism (recently) and even its capital investments as add-ons. Among the not-so-rich, transportation is the main source of emissions.

The report puts into the 1% those who charge more than $ 172,000 a year; in the wealthiest 10% to those between that amount and $ 55,000 annually; the middle class (40% of the world’s population) earn from 54,999 to 9,800 dollars a year and 50% of the poorest do not reach that figure.

“For us it is essential that countries recognize that their national plans are not enough,” explains Ocharan. “The UN tells you that we are going to 2.7º of global warming in 2100 if these plans are not touched [lo acordado en París son 1,5º]. We add that they are not only not enough but unfair, because they are made with models that benefit the richest 10%. “Oxfam urges countries to commit to a short-term program that is in line with the goal of a degree and a half, and that they do so on the basis of equality.

“It is certainly time for governments to impose higher taxes or outright ban the consumption of highly carbon-intensive luxuries, from SUVs to yachts, private jets and space tourism, which represent a morally unjustified expense of the meager budget of remaining carbon in the world “, propose the organizations responsible for the text.

67.7 tons per year

Another approximation towards the same conclusion that Ocharan exposes: if the emission projects that the countries have carried out are not touched, the group of the wealthiest 1% will emit in 2030 up to 67.7 tons of C02 per capita, 30 times more than the 2 , 3 tons that would correspond to them – like everyone else – so that the global rise in temperature in 2100 does not exceed one and a half degrees, as agreed in Paris.

According to this approximation, the only population group – based on income – that complies with the agreement is the poorest half of the planet: in 2030 each person in this group will be responsible for the emission of less than one ton per person. This group could increase its emissions by 200% and still would not reach the 2.3 tons per capita that, on average, are “compatible” with a rise of 1.5 degrees. The richest 1% would have to lower it by 97% to lower the agreed limit, but it is calculated that it will only do so by 5%; the richest 10%, who exceeds the quota ten times, would have to reduce it by 90%, but plans to do so by 11%. On average, emissions would have to be reduced by 52% –which could be entirely reduced to the 50% of the better-off population–, but the forecast is that it will be cut by 7%.

The report argues that the increase in emissions attributable to the most affluent population on the planet “is a reflection of the fact that in the countries that host the majority of this richest 1%, the carbon-intensive economy is not in the way. to improve enough to compensate for the expected increase in consumption by these citizens. ”

Oxfam explains that the biggest cuts in emissions are expected for the middle classes: 40% of the population that is between the richest 10% and the poorest 50% will reduce their emissions between 2015 and 2030 by 9%, “which closer, though still very far, to the cuts needed to achieve the degree and a half [de aumento de la temperatura]”, a fact that he attributes to the effect of the 2015 Paris agreement in which it was agreed to reduce emissions.

The geographical trend change

The report also points out that since 1990 there has been “a significant change” in how much the citizens of the different countries contribute depending on which economic-social group they belong to, changes that are going to be sustained over time. Thus, the study calculates that in 2030 there will be more Chinese citizens in the group of the richest 1% than the US: in 2015 the ratio was 14% -37% in favor of the US; In 2030, 23% -19% will have been invested in favor of the Asian country.

A similar situation will occur between India and the European Union. If six years ago five out of every hundred of the richest were Indians compared to 11 Europeans, within nine there will be 11 Asians and four from the EU. “It is also noteworthy,” the report notes, “that the share of emissions from other countries is going to increase substantially in 2030, with large contributions from citizens of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Brazil.” These trends reflect the slower pace in the reducing emissions in middle-income countries versus rich countries, “concludes Oxfam.


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