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.
The Oxfam report, “Extreme Carbon Inequality,” provides new estimates of the lifestyle consumption emissions of rich and poor citizens in different countries. While negotiators might be working to reach an agreement based on the total emissions produced by their respective countries, this analysis helps dispel the myth that citizens in rapidly developing countries are somehow most to blame for climate change. While emissions are rising fastest in developing countries, much of this is for the production of goods consumed in other countries, meaning that the emissions associated with the lifestyle of the vast majority of their citizens are still far lower than their counterparts in developed countries.
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.”