Carbon emission

20.11.2023 Climate REPORT: Super-Rich 1% Responsible for Same Global Carbon Emission as 5 Billion People

Published 20th Nov, 2023

By Joseph Adeiye

Oxfam, a global social justice and anti-poverty organisation, has claimed that the super-rich one percent of earth’s population was recently responsible for the same global carbon emission as 5 billion other people.

In its Climate Equality report of November 2023, Oxfam showed how earth’s richest one percent released 16 percent of global carbon emissions, the same amount from 66 percent of humanity (5 billion people) in 2019.

“In 2019, the super-rich 1% were responsible for 16% of global carbon emissions, which is the same as the emissions of the poorest 66% of humanity (5 billion people). Since the 1990s, the super-rich 1% burned through twice as much of the carbon budget as the poorest half of humanity combined,” Oxfam’s report stated in a summary of its analysis.

“The emissions of the 1% are set to be over 22 times more than the safe limit (the emissions allowed if we are to stay below 1.5°C global warming) in 2030. Annual global emissions by the super-rich 1% cancel out carbon savings for almost a million onshore wind turbines. The emissions of the super-rich 1% in 2019 are enough to cause 1.3 million deaths due to heat.”

READ ALSO: Africa Suffers $1.28trn Annual Climate Finance Gap, Says AFDB

climate equality

Oxfam said that the super-rich minority is burning the planet.

Its criticism of the minority in the Climate Equality report rests on the lifestyle choices of the billionaires monitored.

The richest one percent managed to release 16 percent of global carbon emission “through the carbon they emit in their daily lives from their consumption, including from their yachts, private jets and lavish lifestyles; through their investments and shareholdings in heavily-polluting industries and their vested financial interest in the economic status quo; and through the undue influence that they have over the media, the economy and politics and policymaking”.

Among the scenarios of solutions that Oxfam suggested, the report points to the good more taxes from the richest individuals could do. For instance, a 60 percent tax on the incomes of the super-rich one percent of earners would cut the carbon equivalent of more than the total emissions of the United Kingdom and raise $6.4 trillion to fund renewable energy infrastructure. In short, a transition from fossil fuels can be fast-tracked if the ultra-wealthy pay more tax.

READ ALSO: REPORT: Climate Change Has Displaced 21million People Every Year Since 2008

Africa's emission

Oxfam reiterated the case of a climate injustice many climate advocacy groups have highlighted: the richest entities contribute more in emissions to climate change while they suffer the least of its consequences. Conversely, the poorest people release far less carbon emissions but contend with the dangerous effects of climate change.

The wealthiest economies happen to be the world’s largest carbon polluters too. The United States, China and India alone were responsible for over 50 percent of CO2 emissions globally in 2021.

“Over 80% of women’s livelihoods depend on small-scale subsistence farming, making them particularly vulnerable to climate change-induced risks such as natural hazards, droughts, pests’ infestations, and changes in rainfall patterns,” African Activists for Climate Justice reported on Nigeria.

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Published 20th Nov, 2023

By Joseph Adeiye


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