The world’s wealthiest 1% of people, which numbers around 77 million individuals, produced as much carbon pollution in 2019 as the poorest 5 billion people, who make up two-thirds of humanity. This is according to a report released by Oxfam on Monday ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Dubai.
Climate inequality has been worsening for years, with the richest 10% responsible for half of CO₂ emissions. Each year, the emissions of the richest 1% would wipe out the carbon dioxide savings of nearly a million wind turbines. A person in the bottom 99% emits an average of 4.1 tons of carbon per year, while an average wealthy individual emits an incredible 8,194 tons per year.
The gap between rich and poor is only widening due to climate change and its effects on developing countries. The majority of people affected by climate change live in these areas and are struggling to cope with its consequences such as food and water scarcity, heat waves, and natural disasters like floods and droughts.
According to Oxfam’s research conducted in collaboration with Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), a person from the bottom 99% emits an average of just over four tons of carbon per year while a wealthy individual emits an average of almost nine thousand tons per year. Furthermore, Oxfam claims that taxing just one percent’s income could reduce global carbon emissions by more than what some developed nations produce annually and generate $6 trillion in revenue each year to fund renewable energy transition programs globally.