The poorest half of the world’s population - 3.5 billion people - is responsible for just 10 percent of carbon emissions, despite being the most threatened by the catastrophic storms, droughts, and other severe weather shocks linked to climate change. These are the findings of a new Oxfam report, released during the ongoing climate talks in Paris, which also shows the world’s richest 10 percent produce around half of all emissions.
Oxfam’s head of food and climate policy, Tim Gore, said: “Climate change and economic inequality are inextricably linked and together pose one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. Paris must be the start of building a more human economy for all – not just for the ‘haves,’ the richest and highest emitters, but also the ‘have-nots,’ the poorest people who are the least responsible for and most vulnerable to climate change.”
The report, authored by Gore, makes clear the extent of this inequality in emissions responsibility – globally, within and between countries. For example:
- Someone in the richest one percent of the world’s population uses 175 times more carbon on average than someone from the bottom 10 percent.
- Someone in the richest 10 percent of citizens in India uses on average just one quarter of the carbon of someone in the poorest half of the population of the United States.
- The emissions of someone in the poorest half of the Indian population are on average just one-twentieth those of someone in the poorest half of the US population.
- The total emissions of the poorest half of the population of China, around 600 million people, are only one-third of the total emissions of the richest 10 percent in the US, some 30 million people.
According to the report, the only people who benefit from the status quo and who stand to gain from a weak deal in Paris is a select group of billionaires, who have made many of their fortunes in the fossil fuel industry.Oxfam is also calling for the Paris deal to recognize the need to address loss and damage from the effects of climate change to which it is not possible to adapt, as well as ensure that all climate projects and actions respect human rights and gender equality.
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