A new study by Oxfam shows that the richest 10% people of the world are responsible for almost half of all global carbon emissions while the poorest 50% (some 3.5 billion people) cause just 10% of it in one year.
A person belonging to the poorest half of the world emits just 1.57 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year while a person belonging to the richest 10% emits 17.6 tonnes (over 11 times more).
If we compare the richest 10% with the poorest 10%, the gap is mind-boggling. The carbon footprint of the richest is 60 times larger than that of the poorest at a global level.
The findings of the study are significant on account of the recent Paris talks on Climate Change.
Because in the global negotiations, the commitment of the rich countries to their own lifestyles is so entrenched that they are unable to give it up. On the other hand they force changes on the struggling poor of the developing world.
This is all the more unjust because it is the developing world that is going to bear the brunt of extreme climate change effects, as a recent World Bank study of 52 nations showed.
The vast majority of the world’s richest 10% stay in OECD countries – North America, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. In fact, a third of them stay in the US. So the culpability of rich countries in emissions is reaffirmed, with the additional information that it is their profligate consumerism that is driving emissions.
Oxfam’s estimates reveal that per person emissions of India’s richest 10% are about 2 tonnes, just a quarter of even US’ poorest 50%, whose emissions are 8.57 tonnes.