Oxfam finds “richest 1%” responsible for more than double emissions of poor

The richest 1% of the world’s population are responsible for more than double the emissions of the poorest half of humanity, according to research.

On 21 September, Oxfam published a report, Confronting Carbon Inequality, in which it assessed the consumption emissions of different income groups between 1990 and 2015. It found that the richest 10% accounted for over half (52%) of emissions added to the atmosphere between 1990 and 2015, with the richest 1% responsible for 15% of emissions during this time. This is more than all the citizens of the EU and more than twice that of the 3.1bn people that make up the poorest half of humanity (7%).

It further outlined how during this time, the richest 10% were responsible for running through one third of the remaining global 1.5C carbon budget – compared to just 4% for the poorest half of the population. Annual emissions also grew by 60% between 1990 and 2015, with the richest 5% responsible for over a third (37%) of this growth. The total increase in emissions of the richest 1% was three times more than the poorest 50%.

The report’s author, Tim Gore, Head of Climate Policy at Oxfam, said: “Simply rebooting our outdated, unfair, and polluting pre-Covid economies is no longer a viable option.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.”