World’s richest 10% produce half of carbon emissions

A new Oxfam report released during the UN climate talks in Paris reveals that the world’s richest 10 per cent are responsible for half of global carbon emissions while the poorest 3.5 billion account for just 10 per cent, despite being the most threatened by climate change.

The Oxfam report, Extreme Carbon Inequality, helps dispel the myth that citizens in rapidly developing countries are most to blame for climate change, writes Oxfam in a news release. While emissions may be rising faster in these countries, much of it is to produce goods consumed in the richest 10 per cent of the world.

These findings call into question the fairness of reaching an agreement based on the total emissions produced by each country if the emissions associated with the lifestyle of developing countries are still far lower than those in developed countries.

“Climate change and economic inequality are inextricably linked and together pose one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century,” said Oxfam’s head of food and climate policy Tim Gore. “Paris must be the start of building a more human economy for all – not just for the ‘haves,’ the richest and highest emitters, but also the ‘have-nots,’ the poorest people who are the least responsible for and most vulnerable to climate change.”

As a recent World Bank report showed, the poorest on the planet are the most threatened by the catastrophic effects of climate change, including extreme storms, droughts and other severe weather shocks or extremes. Women, especially in rural communities, are most vulnerable because they often depend on agriculture to make a living.

“Extreme carbon inequality has to be capped,” argues Gore. “Any deal must keep alive the possibility of holding global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius and provide a major boost in funding to help the poorest and most vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.”


Photo credit: UN Photo/Logan Abassi

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