Climate Change Tracker: Gaping inequality at the heart of the climate crisis
The world's wealthiest 10% are responsible for 50% of the world's carbon emissions, according to a new report from Oxfam
It’s no secret that there is a huge gap between the reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions governments promised by 2030, and the reality. As highlighted earlier this month, the UN’s United In Science report notes the strong possibility of a global carbon emissions gap of 29-32 gigatons of CO2 equivalents/singular (GtCO2). That is the rough equivalent of the combined emissions of the six largest emitting countries.
A new report published on 21 September lays out the staggering gap between the emissions of the wealthiest countries and the poorest nations. The report, Confronting Carbon Inequality, was prepared by Oxfam—an international confederation of 20 NGOs—and the Stockholm Environment Institute, a research and policy organization. According to it, between 1990-2015, the world’s annual emissions grew by 60%, while cumulative emissions doubled. The wealthiest 10% of the world’s population, about 630 million people, were responsible for 50% of the cumulative emissions, and the poorest 50%, some 3.1 billion people, just 7% of the cumulative emissions.
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The report says that in those 25 years, the world used up nearly 750 GtCO2 (it had taken 140 years till 1990 to use up a similar amount). According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world can afford to release just 118 GtCO2 between 2018-2100 if it wants to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. The report says that without drastic action, the budget will be exhausted by 2030.
The report pins the blame for the gaping inequality on the addiction of the wealthiest to high-carbon transport like high-emitting cars, SUVs and frequent flights. It says that the per capita consumption footprint of the richest 1% is currently 35% higher than the 1.5 degrees Celsius carbon budget for 2030. But where do the wealthiest people live? The report says that half of the emissions of the richest 10% come from North America and the European Union, and a fifth from China and India.
The report makes it clear that there needs to be a better reckoning of climate justice and apportioning of the burden of mitigating emissions for the global targets for 2030 and beyond to be truly met. As always, time is of the essence.
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FIRST PUBLISHED24.09.2020 | 11:00 AM IST