According to a recent report by Oxfam, the richest 1 percent of the world’s population is responsible for producing as much carbon pollution in 2019 as the poorest 5 billion people. The report, titled “Climate Equality: The Planet for the 99%,” is based on research conducted in collaboration with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and estimates the consumption emissions of different income groups in 2019, which is the latest year for which data is available.
The report shows a significant gap between the carbon footprint of the super-rich and most people around the world. The richest 10 percent are estimated to be responsible for half of CO₂ emissions, while every year, their emissions would wipe out the carbon savings of nearly a million wind turbines. On average, a person in the bottom 99 percent emits an average of 4.1 tons of carbon per year, while an individual from Oxfam’s list of Sweden’s top billionaires emits an average of 8,194 tons of greenhouse gases per year, with about 5,959 tons being carbon dioxide.
As people in developing countries feel more acutely affected by climate change and its impacts on agriculture and livelihoods, this gap between rich and poor is widening further. According to Oxfam, climate change exacerbates inequality within and between countries and threatens millions of lives. To address this issue, Oxfam recommends implementing policies that will reduce CO₂ emissions significantly and provide financial support to individuals affected by climate change-related disasters such as droughts and floods.