Every year, the world’s (left) elite gathers in Davos. Pictured is Tanja Fajon in Davos (photo: EPA)
According to a new Oxfam report, the richest 1 percent of Earth’s population emits the same amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) as the poorest two-thirds of the population. In 2019, the carbon emissions of the richest one percent rose to 16 percent of all global emissions, the same amount of emissions produced by the poorest five billion people. So those who gather in Davos every year are part of the problem, not the solution.
The Oxfam report, published on Sunday and based on research by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), estimated the consumption emissions of different income groups. The study’s findings highlight the gap between the carbon footprint of the super-rich and the rest of the world. In addition to their lavish lifestyles, the super-rich are also known for investing in carbon-rich fossil fuels. Their wealth grew by $26 trillion, while the net market value of the rest of the 99% of people only increased by $16 trillion.
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Chiara LiguoriOxfam’s senior climate justice policy adviser, said the super-rich are “robbing the planet” while the poor are paying the price.
It would take the poor 1,500 years to produce the carbon footprint of the rich.
“The sheer scale of climate inequality revealed in the report highlights how inextricably linked the two crises are – fueling each other – and the urgent need to ensure that the rising costs of climate change fall on those most responsible and able to pay,” she said.
“The difference between the super rich and the rest of us is huge. It would take about 1,500 years for someone in the bottom 99 percent to produce as much carbon as the richest billionaires in a year. This is fundamentally unfair. Governments around the world, including the UK, must tackle the twin crises of inequality and climate change by targeting the excess emissions of the super rich and taxing them more.”
“This would raise much-needed revenue that could be channeled into a range of vital societal spending needs, including a just transition to clean, renewable energy, as well as meeting our international commitments to support communities already bearing the brunt of the climate crisis,” Liguori concluded.
Inflation increases poverty
The wealthy benefit from three trends, he said Nabil Ahmeddirector of economic justice at Oxfam America.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the world’s governments, especially the wealthier countries, poured trillions of dollars into their economies to prevent collapse. This has fueled a rise in the value of stocks and other assets.
“A lot of fresh money ended up with the extremely rich, who were able to control this stock market jump, this asset boom,” Ahmed said. “And the guardrails of fair taxation have not been put in place.”
In addition, many corporations have performed well in recent years. Some 95 food and energy companies are set to more than double their profits in 2022, Oxfam said, as inflation caused prices to soar. Much of that money was paid out to shareholders.
Every year, the world’s elite gather in Davos. Bill Gates among others. (Photo: epa)
In contrast, global poverty increased greatly at the start of the pandemic. While some progress has been made in reducing poverty since then, it is expected to stall in 2022, partly due to the war in Ukraine, which has exacerbated high food and energy prices, according to World Bank data cited by Oxfam. About 1.7 billion workers live in countries where inflation outpaces wages. The trend of poverty reduction stopped last year after the number of the world’s poor increased sharply in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is the first time in 25 years that extreme wealth and extreme poverty have increased at the same time, Oxfam said.
Those who gather in Davos in private jets and convince us to give up cars and meat are therefore part of the problem, not the solution. In reality, the elite one percenters are preaching to us, who are not, how to live, so that they can live the way they have until now.