The richest one percent of the world’s population is responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who made up the poorest half of humanity during a critical 25-year period of unprecedented emissions growth according to research. Oxfam’s new report, Confronting Carbon Inequality, is based on evidence compiled with the Stockholm Environment Institute and is being released as world leaders prepare to meet at the UN General Assembly to discuss global challenges including the climate crisis.
The report assesses the consumption emissions of different income groups between 1990 and 2015 – 25 years when humanity doubled the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It found:
- The richest 10 percent accounted for over half (52 percent) of the emissions added to the atmosphere between 1990 and 2015. The richest one percent was responsible for 15 percent of emissions during this time – more than all the citizens of the EU and more than twice that of the poorest half of humanity (7 percent).
- During this time, the richest 10 percent blew one third of our remaining global 1.5C carbon budget, compared to just 4 percent for the poorest half of the population. The carbon budget is the amount of carbon dioxide that can be added to the atmosphere without causing global temperatures to rise above 1.5C – the goal set by governments in the Paris Agreement to avoid the very worst impacts of uncontrolled climate change.
- Annual emissions grew by 60 percent between 1990 and 2015. The richest 5 percent were responsible for over a third (37 percent) of this growth. The total increase in emissions of the richest one percent was three times more than that of the poorest 50 percent.
The report can be found at: https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/handle/10546/621052
Meanwhile in a recorded message, played at the virtual opening of Climate Week today (Monday 21 September), Prince Charles said “swift and immediate action” was needed. He said Covid-19 provided a “window of opportunity” to reset the economy for a more “sustainable and inclusive future”, adding that the pandemic was “a wake-up call we cannot ignore”.
In his message, recorded from Birkhall in the grounds of Balmoral, Scotland, Prince Charles said: “Without swift and immediate action, at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to ‘reset’ for… a more sustainable and inclusive future.”
According to press reports the UK is poised to bring forward its ban on new fossil fuel vehicles from 2040 to 2030 to help speed up the rollout of electric vehicles.
Prime minister Johnson is expected to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles this autumn with the announcement, one of a string of new clean energy policies to help trigger a green economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The government had hoped to set out the plans as early as this week, according to sources in the energy and transport industries, but the announcement will be delayed until later this year as it focuses on tackling the rising number of coronavirus cases.
Kwasi Kwarteng MP, the minister for clean energy, confirmed last week that the long-awaited energy white paper, which will underpin the government’s legally binding target to create a net zero carbon economy by 2050 would finally be published this autumn. Scheduled for November it is expected to follow the advice set out by the Committee on Climate Change.
Send your comments to: acesettleandarea at gmail.com (replace at with @)