Taxing the Wealthy Before They Kill Us All?

Lloyd Alter’s adds a new CO2 or carbon pollution commentary on Carbon Up Front which follows many of his other commentaries on the issue. They can be found here. All of which address the issues of our advanced civilization slowly poisoning the world with a continued release of CO2. His latest article identifies the worst emitters of CO2 amongst us.

Tax the rich before they kill us all, Carbon Upfront, Lloyd Alter

A new OXFAM report finds that the richest 1% of the world’s population is responsible for as much carbon pollution as the poorest two-thirds of humanity.

An Instagram post from a couple of years ago caused enough embarrassment it was taken down after 8.3 million views. It could have easily been on the cover of the new Oxfam report Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%. It gets to the point of who are the worst violators.

The report starts with a stern Greta Thunberg writing in the forward:

“The richest 1% of the world’s population are responsible for as much carbon pollution as the people who make up the poorest two-thirds of humanity. They have stolen our planet’s resources to fuel their lavish lifestyles. A short trip on a private jet will produce more carbon than the average person emits all year. They are sacrificing us at the altar of their greed. This report reveals a perverse reality: those who have done the least to cause the climate crisis are the ones who are suffering the most. And those who have done the most will likely suffer the least.”

In my previous writing, I did not worry much about the 1%, with their production of 16% of carbon emissions, as I was about the top 10%, who are responsible for fully 50% of the carbon emissions. I thought the private jets and yachts of the super-rich were ostentatious and emitted a lot of carbon, with some very rich yacht owners at 3,000 tonnes per year when the Canadian average is around 18.

There weren’t that many of them- only 7,700 worldwide, with a total annual output of 1.7 gigatonnes of CO2, while the top 10% pumped out 18.5 gigatonnes. But many average North Americans are in that 10% and can find it hard to cut their footprint significantly. It costs serious money to change to electric cars or heat pumps. Many live in places where it’s hard to get around without a car. But as the report notes . . .

“Cutting emissions is easier the richer you are. The majority of carbon emissions of the super-rich come from luxury goods and services and from their investments, so they have far greater capacity to make the deep and immediate cuts we need to stay below 1.5°C. No one needs, for example, frequent air travel, private jets or yachts, multiple multimillion-dollar mansions or fleets of high-end gas-guzzling cars. With one call to their stockbroker, a billionaire investor can easily shift their money away from fossil fuels into green energy.”

The rest of the commentary can be found at Lloyd Alter’s site, Carbon Upfront. It is a good read with more charts depicting the issues.