Thursday, December 03, 2015

World's richest 10% produce half of carbon emissions

The world's richest 10 percent produce around half of all carbon emissions, while 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, according to a new Oxfam report, released during the ongoing climate talks in Paris.

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."

"Rich, high emitters should be held accountable for their emissions, no matter where they live. But it's easy to forget that rapidly developing economies are also home to the majority of the world's very poorest people and while they have to do their fair share, it is rich countries that should still lead the way," said Gore.

As a recent World Bank report showed, the poorest are often the most vulnerable and least prepared to cope with the effects of climate change, regardless of national borders. Droughts, floods, and superstorms have hit both countries like the United States and the Philippines. Women, especially those in rural communities, are most at risk, since they often depend on agriculture and have few other opportunities to make a living.

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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