The richest 1 percent of the world’s population, which is comprised of 77 million people, was responsible for producing as much carbon pollution in 2019 as the poorest 5 billion people, who make up two-thirds of humanity. This information was announced by Oxfam in a report that will be published on the eve of the United Nations climate summit in Dubai. The NGO has stated that it is clearer than ever that it is impossible to end the age of fossil fuels until the era of extreme wealth also comes to an end.
The report, “Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%,” was created in collaboration with a Swedish research institute called the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). It assesses consumption emissions for different income groups in 2019 and highlights the deep gap between the carbon footprint of the super-rich and most people around the world. According to Oxfam, people in the top 10 percent were responsible for half of CO₂ emissions, while their emissions would wipe out carbon dioxide savings from nearly a million wind turbines each year.
The SEI reports that an individual in the bottom 99 percent emits an average of 4.1 tons of carbon per year, while a survey by SEI found that individuals in its sample of 20 billionaires emit an average of 8,194 tons of greenhouse gases per year, with approximately half coming from carbon dioxide emissions alone.
Because people living in poorer countries are feeling more acutely affected by climate change than those living in wealthier ones, this gap is only becoming wider. Climate change is exacerbating inequality both within and between countries according to Oxfam. To address this issue, they have calculated that a tax on just 60% of the income earned by wealthy individuals would reduce CO₂ emissions significantly and generate $6.4 trillion annually to fund renewable energy initiatives and mitigate climate change impacts globally.