World’s Richest 1% Cause Double CO2 Emissions Of Poorest 50%

by : Julia Banim on : 21 Sep 2020 13:32
World's Richest 1% Cause Double CO2 Emissions Of Poorest 50%PA/NASA

A startling new report has revealed that the world’s richest 1% are responsible for over twice as much carbon pollution than the poorest half of the global population.

The report looks at the consumption emissions from various income groups between the years 1990 and 2015, a critical time period when human beings doubled the amount of carbon dioxide found in the Earth’s atmosphere.


The wealthiest 10% accounted for more than half (52%) of emissions which were added to the atmosphere during with time, with the richest 1% being responsible for 15%. This added up to more than all EU citizens, and was found to be twice as much as those from the poorest half (7%).

carbon dioxide emissionsPA Images

Between 1990 to 2015, the wealthiest 10% blew one third of the remaining global 1.5C carbon budget, with the poorest half accounting for just 4%.

The carbon budget refers to the amount of carbon dioxide which may be added to the atmosphere without leading to global temperatures rising above the 1.5C mark, in accordance with aims established by governments in the Paris Agreement.


This new Oxfam report, entitled Confronting Carbon Inequality, draws from research carried out with the Stockholm Environment Institute. It’s now being released at a time when world leaders are getting ready to meet at the UN General Assembly to discuss various global challenges currently facing humanity.

Head of Climate Policy at Oxfam, Tim Gore – who wrote the report – said:

The over-consumption of a wealthy minority is fuelling the climate crisis yet it is poor communities and young people who are paying the price.

Such extreme carbon inequality is a direct consequence of our governments decades long pursuit of grossly unequal and carbon intensive economic growth.

Air pollutionPexels

It’s believed that carbon emissions will likely see a rapid rebound once Coronavirus-related lockdowns are eased, with our remaining carbon budget for 1.5C set to be ‘entirely depleted’ by 2030 should such significant carbon inequality remain unchecked.

Even if all other emissions were slashed to zero, the equality demonstrated in this report is so extreme that the wealthiest 10% could still drain the carbon budget by 2033.

Gore explained:

Simply rebooting our outdated, unfair, and polluting pre-Covid economies is no longer a viable option. Governments must seize this opportunity to reshape our economies and build a better tomorrow for us all.

Governments must curb the emissions of the wealthy through taxes and bans on luxury carbon such as SUVs and frequent flights. Revenues should be invested in in public services and low carbon sectors to create jobs, and help end poverty.

Climate changePexels

This report estimates that the per capita emissions of the wealthiest 10% of people on Earth would have to be approximately 10 times lower by the year 2030 in order for our planet to be on track for just 1.5C of global warming. This would be equivalent to reducing global annual emissions by one third.

Even if the per capita emissions of the richest 10% were reduced to that of the EU average, annual emissions would drop by more than a quarter.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Now


OXFAM and 1 other
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    Carbon emissions of richest 1 percent more than double the emissions of the poorest half of humanity

  2. OXFAM

    Confronting Carbon Inequality: Putting climate justice at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery