World’s Richest 1% Drive Climate Change Like No One Else

Climate change across the world is being driven by, who else, the richest 1% of the world’s population.

A new report issued by The Guardian, the Stockholm Environment Institute and Oxfam – and international charity – recently concluded that the “polluter elite” are driving climate change in a disproportionate manner. In fact, they say that this group of people emit as much carbon pollution as the entire poorest two-thirds of people in the world.

The report pointed out that the “extreme inequality” being experienced in the world along with climate change are now becoming “interlaced, fused together and driving one another.”

Researchers who worked on the report found that 16% of all the carbon that was emitted throughout the world in 2019 was done so by the wealthiest 1% of all people. This includes anyone who makes $140,000 per year or more.

They found that the contribution of this cohort of people “is the same as the emissions of the poorest 66% of humanity,” which is about 5 billion people across the globe.

If the researchers expanded their analysis to include the richest 10% of all people, it resulted in about half of carbon emissions from 2019 coming from the group.

The senior climate justice policy adviser for Oxfam, Chiara Liguori, commented on the findings:

“It would take about 1,500 years for someone in the bottom 99% to produce as much carbon as the richest billionaires do in a year. This is fundamentally unfair.”

What might be even more alarming is that the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions that this wealthy group of people produced back in 2019 – which was 5.9 billion tonnes – is sufficient to change temperatures across the globe enough that it could result in 1.3 million people dying.

To come to that conclusion, the report’s researchers used methodology that’s widely used and called the “mortality cost of carbon.”

The report also pointed out that 12 of the wealthiest billionaires in the world have contributed almost 17 million tonnes of carbon emissions just from their yachts, transportation modes, homes and even their investments. That amount is actually more than what four-and-a-half coal power plants would produce in one year.

The top carbon emitter in the world, according to the report, is Carlos Slim Helu. Forbes says he has a $94.7 billion net worth. The report then listed others such as Bernard Arnault, Sergey Brin and Larry Page (the founders of Google), Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates among the worst emitters list.

William Ripple, an ecology professor at Oregon State University who serves as the Alliance of World Scientists’ director, said that the findings and methodology from this report are “broadly consistent with some recent peer-reviewed scientific literature on this topic.”

He added:

“Carbon inequality and climate justice are major issues. To address climate change, we’ll need to dramatically reduce inequality and provide support and climate compensation to less wealthy regions.”