Confronting Carbon Inequality, is a new report, released by the Oxfam International and the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI) on September 21, 2020.
The report reveals the extreme carbon inequality in recent decades that has driven the world to the climate brink.
Extreme Carbon Inequality
From 1990 to 2015, a critical period in which annual emissions grew 60% and cumulative emissions doubled, the report estimates that:
Between 1990 and 2015
- The richest 10% of humanity accounted for 52% of the cumulative emissions, depleting the global carbon budget for 1.5C by nearly a third (31%);
- The richest 1% alone accounted for over 15% of the cumulative emissions, using up 9% of the carbon budget: more than twice the poorest 50%, or more than the entire cumulative emissions of citizens in the EU;
- The 40% of humanity in the global middle class accounted for 41% of the cumulative emissions, and 25% of the carbon budget, while the poorest 50% accounted for just 7% of cumulative emissions, and a mere 4% of the budget.
From 1990 to 2015
- The richest 5% (around 315 million people) accounted for over a third (37%) of the total growth in emissions;
- The richest 10% (around 630 million people) accounted for 46% of the total emissions;
- To limit global heating to 1.5C, global average per capita emissions should be approximately 2.1t/year by 2030.
- The per capita consumption footprints of the richest 1% are currently around 35 times higher than the target for 2030, and more than 100 times higher than the poorest 50%.
- The per capita footprint of the richest 10% is more than 10 times the 1.5C-consistent target for 2030, and more than 30 times higher than the poorest 50%.
- Reducing the per capita footprint of the richest 10% to the 1.5C-consistent level by 2030 would cut annual carbon emissions by over a third (>15Gt), and even reducing it just to the level of the EU average (8.2t/year) would cut annual emissions by over a quarter (c.10Gt).
Where To Start?
- The richest 10% of the world population live in every continent, and the geographic composition of the group has evolved over the last 20-30 years.
- Around half the emissions of the richest 10% (24.5% of global emissions) are today associated with the consumption of citizens of North America and the EU, and around a fifth (9.2% of global emissions) with citizens of China and India.
- Over a third of the emissions of the richest 1% (5.7% of global emissions) are todaylinked to citizens in the US, with the next biggest contributions coming from residents of the Middle East and China (2.7% and 2.1% of global emissions respectively).
The forms of consumption that make up the very high footprints of these groups may vary considerably depending on the national context in which they live, among other factors. For example, emissions from driving will likely be higher in less densely populated countries; emissions from home heating will be higher in colder ones.28 Nonetheless, some patterns in the consumption habits of high-income people can be identified based on nationally specific studies.
5 Things You Need To Know About Carbon Inequality
Extreme carbon inequality is driving the world to the climate brink and close to exceeding the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement. Here are 5 reasons why urgent action is needed now if we want to stop runaway global heating and build fairer economies within the limits our planet can bear.
- In recent decades, carbon emissions have rocketed.
- Carbon inequality is driving us to the climate brink
- There is a limit to the total amount of carbon we can collectively emit.
- Poor communities and young people are paying the highest price
- Governments showed they can be radical when there is no other choice
Read more here.