The richest 1 percent of the world’s population, which comprises 77 million individuals, is responsible for producing as much carbon pollution as the poorest 5 billion people, who make up two-thirds of humanity. This fact was revealed in a report published by Oxfam on Monday ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Dubai. According to the report, titled “Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%,” the super-rich are responsible for half of CO₂ emissions, with each year’s emissions by the richest 1 percent wiping out the carbon dioxide savings of nearly a million wind turbines.
The report was based on research conducted in collaboration with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and assessed consumption emissions of different income groups in 2019. The data showed that people in the bottom 99 percent emit an average of 4.1 tons of carbon per year, while individuals in the top 20 billionaires emit an average of 8,194 tons of greenhouse gases per year, including about 5,959 tons of carbon dioxide.
Oxfam stated that this gap between rich and poor is only widening due to climate change, which is exacerbating inequality both within and between countries. The organization calculated that a tax on the incomes of the richest 1 percent would reduce CO₂ emissions by more than the UK’s total emissions and raise $6.4 trillion annually to support renewable energy transition efforts.
According to Behar, interim director at Oxfam International, “For years we have been fighting to end our reliance on fossil fuels to save millions of lives and protect our planet. However, it is clear that this is impossible until we also end the era of extreme wealth.” He added that “It’s time for governments to take bold action to address climate change and promote greater equality.”